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“As they led Him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, … laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” (Luke 23:26).

Simon of Cyrene Carries the Cross (Dan Rady)

“As they led Him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” (Luke 23:26).


I have been reflecting on this short line from the Gospel of Saint Luke on this most solemn of days…


For there is so much to understand in that one short line…


You see, Simon saw Christ and yet – even seeing all that suffering, Simon did not volunteer to help Christ. And I cannot blame Simon for this, because neither do I volunteer to help Christ where I see Him in others...


Perhaps Simon – like me – was distracted by the price of bread in the marketplace or the rumbling of his belly or the thirst of his tongue while he decided where he would stop for lunch?


Maybe he was angry because he had had an argument with a loved one that morning or the night before? I carry such anger sometimes…


Could he have been tired after a long journey and desperately in need of a rest? After all, I am weak and often too tired and lazy to try harder…


When I imagine the scene that Saint Luke described in one short sentence, I imagine that Simon saw all the trouble of the execution and then decided that he would try to dodge through the traffic, slipping through quickly because it was someone else’s problem... And I imagine it in this way because this is how I live my own life.


And in imagining the reality of that scene, twenty centuries ago, I am almost entirely sure that as he tried to wriggle past the problem, Simon of Cyrene did not look into the Face of Christ… For how could one resist reaching out to help such abject suffering if one really acknowledged it? And I am sure of this, because I would have looked away too…


I can see Simon watching the condemned Man from a distance and judging Him. I can see Simon thinking to himself, “How good that I am the sort of upright person who would never be condemned to death as a criminal. I am a good man. I am a very good man. I am not like Him.” And I can see this because I watch too, and while I watch I judge…


And – because he was distracted with his own concerns and his own pride that day – Simon did not look at the suffering Christ and ask if He needed help. And neither do I – for I am distracted too…

No. Simon had to be taken hold of! Saint Luke tells us that the soldiers “…took hold of a certain Simon…”. He was not going to volunteer to carry that Cross that day. And I pity Simon, because in this we are the same… You see, I have never – not once in my entire life – ever volunteered to carry a Cross of my own accord…

I even wonder – did Simon of Cyrene first shout “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” in the blissful anonymity of the crowd, before the solder’s “took hold of” him as he tried to scuttle past the dying Man? You see, I too have cried “Crucify Him!” louder than them all…


And yet, suffering is the necessary path to redemption and the Cross is the necessary path to Glory...


Pope Francis explains, “The transfiguration of Christ shows us the Christian perspective of suffering. Suffering is not sadomasochism: It is a necessary but transitory passage, the point of arrival to which we are called is luminous like the face of Christ transfigured. In Him is salvation, beatitude, light and boundless love of God.”


And Saint Padre Pio said, “Let us remember that the destiny of elect souls is to suffer. It is through our suffering in a Christian way that God, the author of all Grace and of every gift that leads to salvation, has determined to give us glory.”


And – today as I reflect on this short sentence of Scripture – I feel frozen in wonder... Because today – while He was Suffering the Agony of His Passion and Death – EVEN THEN Christ allowed Simon the Cyrene to carry His Cross…


Even right there – bearing the sins of all the world – God had time, extra time for ONE special soul. And knowing that the weaknesses of that soul (and also knowing Simon’s full potential) because Simon was incapable of volunteering, He “…took hold of a certain Simon…” using the hands of His own tormentors…


And now – and for all eternity – Simon the Cyrene can proclaim, “I carried the Cross of the Son of Man…”


How could I fail to have faith when I see this in front of my very eyes? For – even in this moment of His death – God used the evil around Him for the GOOD of souls – and not just for the good of a billion souls – He used it for the good of one single soul, for even that soul was valuable to Him. God used it for the GOOD of Simon’s soul, who He “took hold of” because Simon was too weak to volunteer…


And now – and for all eternity – Simon the Cyrene can proclaim, “I carried the Cross of the Son of Man…”


And I beg my Beloved, “Take hold of me. Please, take hold of me.” For of myself I am nothing, but in Your Hands, YOU WILL WORK ALL THINGS TO MY GOOD...


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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