8. Jesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrene to Carry the Cross
Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Quiet moment of asking: “Lord, place me in the situation of this Cyrenian, and I shall ponder what I might have done if they had asked me to help. Imagining that moment, what response do I notice in myself? A desire to help or a desire to slip away?”.
We listen to the words of the Gospel and imagine this surprising moment for this man Simon, and for those around him. Completely unexpectedly, he was grabbed by the soldiers and police and roughly forced to help to carry the Cross. They could see that Jesus was faltering and had already collapsed under the weight of the cross, and his wounds, three times. They might have thought that death was already closing in on him. They were not to be denied their moment; they wanted Jesus’s humiliation to be total and they are annoyed at any delay, as the day moves towards nightfall. As we contemplate this moment, we might notice how we might have reacted if we had been forced to do this, like Simon was.
As they were leading him away they seized on a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus.
Luke 23:26-27, cf. Mark 15: 21
NOTICE – A silent contemplation moment
Remaining in a place of contemplation, we try to picture this incident and even be part of it. Simon from Cyrene never expected any of this to happen and was probably in Jerusalem for other business. He would have been attracted to the scene, with many other passers-by, because of the noise and commotion. Suddenly, he was forced to help Jesus carry His cross. How did he react – was he annoyed? Frightened? Embarrassed? Or maybe something else moved within his heart, that he hadn’t known before … Jesus’s eyes would have met Simon’s. What was in that glance of Jesus? How might it have touched Simon? He would see a suffering man, cruelly mistreated but maybe at that moment he saw more than the injured body. What is this that began to move in Simon’s heart?
Listening to these events, what would I think and feel if I had been in Simon’s shoes? Would I have resisted? Would I have complained, “why me?”? Or, would I have answered a deeper inner movement that drew me, attracted me like the commotion superficially drew Simon?
Good and gracious God, I think that I would always want to help others when they need my help. But sometimes I get annoyed when this happens. I would rather follow my own plans and I don’t like it when I have to do what someone else wants or needs from me. I don’t always make the first move.
Help us to know that your good spirit was in Simon, although he probably didn’t know it, and this was stronger than the selfish spirit. Help us to learn, like he did, to resist our own selfishness when we are asked to help others. And help us to be grateful for all the help that people give to each other. Through each other, you show us the true meaning of love.
Together we pray; Lord, we want to walk beside you in your suffering. Forgive us; and help us to see you in the suffering of the poor.