Day 23 - Challenge
Day 23 - listen here
And they take him out to crucify him. And they conscript a certain passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenean coming in from the countryside, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. And they take him to the place Golgotha, which when it is translated is ‘Place of the Skull’. And they tried to give him wine flavoured with myrrh – but he didn’t take it. And they crucify him.
This is the terse report of an execution, a staccato account of who was there, and what happened. But even in this short walk to Golgotha there is a chink of light: an encounter with Jesus that meant that Simon’s name was remembered and recorded, as well as those of his two sons. Presumably, as Nick King SJ points out, these names mean something to Mark’s community. What happened?
The only thing we can be sure of is that, in this encounter with Jesus in the moment of his complete defeat and humiliation, Simon experienced God. He understood that God was not alien to the suffering he had witnessed, but revealed by it, and the experience never left him. Having picked up the cross, he never put it down.
Suffering in our own lives it is rarely something we choose or embrace: like Simon, we are passers-by who find ourselves ‘conscripted’. Sometimes it is too much – we cannot find God in this brutality, and we thrust the cross from us soon as we can. But the invitation is there to pick it up: to discover God revealing himself in our suffering, and to accompany him in a way that changes us forever.
sometimes when I most need to see your face
and sense your presence,
it is hidden from me by pain and confusion.
I don’t know if I can find you there,
and sometimes I resist looking for you,
because I do not want to accept this suffering
or be defeated by it.
Lord, in the moments when I face the cross,
reveal yourself to me again. Draw me closer to you,
because all my hope is in you.