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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Via Dolorosa 5/14…Simon Of Cyrene Helps Jesus To Carry His Cross

The next few days in Lent, we continue to contemplate this journey with Jesus, Who “went out, carrying His cross, to the place called “the place of the skull”, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (John 19:17). I humbly pray that the contemplation of these solemn steps of Christ’s journey will speak to your heart.

“Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee - Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”

– The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi – 1182 - 1226

Scriptural Reading:

“They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him. As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.” (Matthew 27:30-32, NAB)

“And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40, NAB)

“Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NAB)

“They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.” (Mark 15: 21, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

Jesus dear, after seeing your mother, you continued to carry your own Cross; making the solemn journey of the Cross.  All eyes were on you as the crowd boasts of getting rid of yet another preacher, whose thinking was radically different from their's. 

People came from all across the land to witness this execution.  Nevertheless, most of those who followed you during your ministry, seem to be in hiding.

As you peep through the corner of your bloodied eyes, up the hill, Golgotha came into perspective – the Place of the Skull, they call it.  The soldiers continued to lash at you to the rhythm of the heartless mocking of the crowd. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

The weight of the rough edged Cross continuously spike your wounded back.  O, the agony of redeeming mankind.  The price one needs to pay for love…  Blood dripping, your feet trembled, your hands shivering, your back in excruciating pain. 

The soldiers and everyone gathered along the path will never allow you take away their pleasure in seeing you die the ignominious death on the Cross.

Perhaps it was the will of the Father that amongst the crowd was a strong simple man, Simon of Cyrene, who only wanted to pass on by, minding his own business, with his two boys Alexander and Rufus.

He saw the commotion and heard the mocking – he knew the feelings of a father losing a son, he also knew he must shield his two boys from such a cruel act of mankind destroying life. 

Perhaps, he did not know how to explain to them…perhaps, he just does not want to be involved.

A Roman soldier arrogantly picked him out from amongst the crowd and forced him to help Jesus.  “But I was just passing by, sir, on my way home.  Spare me and my children.  I am only a poor farmer.”  Simon was afraid.

Somehow, he found courage and without further reluctance, grumbling or complaining, Simon, left his children, walked up to Jesus.  The look into Jesus’ piercing eyes searched him and stirred restlessness within his heart; he knew Jesus was innocent.

Simon did not understand why the God, the giver of life, who blessed his abundant harvest would allow such cruelty to prevail. 

Yet, he trusted God. Upon the sturdy shoulders from his slogging in the fields, Simon carried the Cross of Our Sins for Jesus uphill.  No words were spoken, simply silence. 

This yoke is surely heavy…

“Come on.  Let’s get on with it.  Crucify Him!”  Simon heard the yelling of the crowd and looked at the bleeding Jesus. Why, my Lord? Why?

Quiet Pondering:

O, Jesus, from amongst so many, you found one righteous man who was willing to embrace the weight of the cross beams with you.

Dear Jesus, like Simon, how often have we been on our own journey home, minding our own business and passed by many, many of such persecutions on the route to Golgotha; it is becoming such a common sight for us in this world! 

As with our daily lives, we just want to pass on by many of such crosses, minding our own business, hoping all would be alright.  How hardened our heart has become, Lord?

Little did we know that, like Simon, God constantly calls us to walk beside Jesus and share the burden of the Cross.  God wants us to see that it is a grace to be able to accompany Jesus on the way of the Cross and to help him.  God wants the silent mystery of the suffering Jesus to touch your heart this Lent.

 Resolve to respond to God’s calling today even when this seems to interfere with your own plans and desires.  Help me to help you carry the cross and walk with you, help me to help others although it might seem difficult for me, help me to realise that I may be the only one amongst the many in the crowd being call forth to experience this grace.

Jesus, melt my heart and teach me to forget myself and remember more of others.  Help me be a voice for those who cannot speak, an eye for those who cannot see, a ear for those who cannot hear; a light in darkness.  By your grace, let me be a heart for those who cannot find love and care in this world.

“One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying.  He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off, and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer.”

St. Teresa of Avila

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second Week of Lent...Jesus Remember Me...

"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom..."
- Taizé

As we enter the Second Week of Lent, we continue to remember to listen to Jesus...remember to learn to see Jesus, the Christ in others...remember to allow Jesus to transform us by His Light.

"All of us, you and I and that poor man on the street, we have been created to love and to be loved.  None of us have been created not to be loved.  That is why today there is that terrible, great poverty in the world; poverty of the heart.  It is so great because people have forgotten to love one another as God loves each one of us.  ...The poor people, the hungry, the naked, the homeless are very wonderful people and we owe them great gratitude because they give us an opportunity to love God."
- Mother Teresa

Via Dolorosa 4/14...Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother

The next few days of Lent, we will contemplate this journey with Jesus, Who “went out, carrying His cross, to the place called “the place of the skull”, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (John 19:17).  I humbly pray that the contemplation of these steps of Christ’s journey will speak simply to your heart.

“Adoramus te, christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

We adore Thee O Christ, and we praise Thee - Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”

– The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi – 1182 - 1226

Scriptural Reading:

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:25-27, NAB)

“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. ” (John 16:21-22, NAB)

“…Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:34-35, NAB)

Simply Reflect:

O Jesus, your body trembled under the weight of the Cross, you dragged yourself up and continued your journey towards Golgotha; your head still bleeding profusely, your wounds, so bitter mixed with your sweat and dirt.

Then suddenly from the corner of your eye, you caught a glimpse of a familiar face, the motherly face which constantly comforted you, cared for you and ever tenderly pampered you with so much love.  Amidst all the cursing and mocking in the surroundings, both their eyes connected, Jesus and His Mother.

No words were spoken, no words were necessary.  Mother Mary stared tearfully at her once little baby, flesh of her flesh, sorrowfully understood and sadly pondered all these quietly in her heart - her pierced bleeding heart.  Though overwhelmed, Mother Mary was fully united in this journey with her boy to Golgotha…she grieved so much but her heart simply knew that His hour had finally come.

Dear Jesus, in your stare, God’s love came down from heaven.  Time stood still… You looked at us, you searched for us…yet we never even stopped to look back, not even a glance, keeping ourselves a distant from you.  We were too caught up with the rest of the crowd, watching all the action and the commotion…we left you out…alone in the cold.

O Jesus, the unspeakable pain you must have felt when we isolated ourselves from you and merely watched from afar at the whole spectacle of your most painful journey to redeem us.

Quiet Pondering:

My dear Jesus, how sorrowful is the sight of you making your way of the Cross - in obedient silence.  The compassionate gaze and stillness of your Mother brings comfort.  We know we are the cause of such pains and great sufferings by our sinning against you.

During my moments of weakness, why do I so easily succumb to doubts, give in and allow evil to triumph in my life?  Jesus, help me learn from you as you obediently bore the burden of the Cross (my sins) and trusted God the Father…never permit me to separate myself from you.

Mother Mary, teach me to imitate you, and learn that faith is to trust even in the face of God’s apparent silence - Trust God when I am hurting or in pain or do not understand, trust God when I do not know why cancer does not discriminate, the good die young or why good people become terminally sick, why the innocent suffer…  Mother Mary truly loved until it hurts and never ceased to trust God. Mother Mary, pray for us this Lent.

Resolve to imitate Mother Mary’s example of being an obedient and trusting instrument of God, even when experiencing obstacles and challenges in your daily lives…always keep your eyes on Jesus.

Jesus, help me on this journey through Lent. Mother Mary, please pray for me.

“Look at His adorable face.
Look at His glazed and sunken eyes.
Look at His wounds.
Look Jesus in the Face.
There, you will see how He loves us.”

- St. Therese of Lisieux