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  • Sarah Raad

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“I carried the Cross of the Son of Man. It was I who carried it.”

Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross (Josef Piens Cooreman Jozef Sedmak)

About three weeks after I had had some major surgery earlier this year, I decided that the time had come to venture into the shops to buy some groceries and fruit and vegetables for my family. I was still not allowed to lift anything more than a few small kilograms, and I did not yet have very much strength in my body. And so, it was with caution and care that I bravely faced those shops that day.


Now, as I was recovering and the worst was – at that time – firmly behind me, I was very reluctant to push myself beyond my own strength because I really wanted to be able to get well and get back to normal, and I did not wish to suffer any setbacks. And as a consequence, though I was unable to ask anyone to help me in the supermarket, when I went into the fruit shop, where the owner knows me having dealt with me on a weekly basis for a number of years, I explained that I would not be able to push the trolley or lift the fruit into my car. Kindly, the man offered to help me with this job.


And so, as I ordered my fruit, he loaded my trolley, wheeled it out to my car, and loaded the fruit into my car himself.


And while this was very very kind of him, I found it incredibly embarrassing. I mean really, how embarrassing, a young, and perfectly healthy-looking woman was directing this poor busy man to push her trolley and load her fruit into the boot of her car in the middle of a bustling shopping centre. And though this man was not in any way impolite or embarrassing about my request – and in fact made no complaint at all about my desire to pack up all my purchases for me – I could not help but feel mortified by my weakness…


Saint Rose Philippinne Duchesne said – and I agree – that, "Humility is the virtue that requires the greatest amount of effort."


And I was – in a word – humbled by my own humanity. And as I reflected on this, my mind turned to wonder about One far greater than I, who humbled Himself in EVERY WAY.


God Himself HUMBLED Himself, to REQUEST of the Blessed Virgin the use of Her sacred womb and Her maternal care of God the Son. In this way, God Himself HUMBLED Himself to become a mere man – though a PERFECT one. God HUMBLED Himself through His poverty and through His ministry. And God Himself HUMBLES Himself ad infinitum to come to us as bread and wine during the Sacrament of the Eucharist.


But it is more than that…


While I was rushing – at my turtle’s pace – ahead of that trolley and that helpful man, blushing with embarrassment, I suddenly recalled one single moment of humility of my Beloved, and it was with that in mind, that I almost could not draw breath…


You see, on His way to Calvary, my Beloved Humbled Himself to allow Simon of Cyrene to carry the Cross. We commemorate this intervention by the Cyrene in the fifth station of the Cross. I have prayed the Stations of the Cross many times. I have meditated upon them. And I have known about this action of the Cyrene nearly my whole life. And yet, on that day, that ONE SINGLE instance of the humility of Christ seemed to consume my very soul. And I knew – with a certainty that I cannot out into words – that if I had all of eternity to ponder, just this one action of my Blessed Lord, I would not have long enough to consider this wonder…


For I imagine the scene in my mind and I can see it as though I were there watching my Beloved that day…


Simon the Cyrene was just passing by. He was busy. He did not have time for this – he was expected elsewhere... Perhaps he was running late for a meeting with someone. Perhaps his wife and children or another relative or a friend were waiting for him? Perhaps he had a business deal that he needed to conclude? Maybe he was on his way to work? Perhaps his taxes were due, and he was walking by on his way to pay them? Maybe he wanted to buy a gift for a loved one that day?


This was unexpected – this Cross.


And it was THRUST upon him. It was thrust upon him in the same way as a terrible disease is thrust upon the healthy. It was thrust upon him in the same way that an accident or a crime is thrust upon its victim. It was thrust upon him in the same way that divorce is thrust upon the unwilling spouse and family. It was thrust upon him in the same way that all the terrible burdens of this world are thrust upon any of us…

And just as I am unwilling to carry my cross of loneliness, illness, grief, misery, misunderstanding and any other number of other things, Simon the Cyrene was unwilling too.

After all, how willing could he have been to carry that Cross for a Man being executed as the lowest and worst kind of criminal? After all, Simon was not a criminal. And it was unfair for him to be made to bear the burden of such a Cross. And it did not look like the Hand of God who thrust that Cross upon Him. Instead, it looked like the hand of a Roman soldier who passed the Cross from the bloodied hands of a criminal into those of an innocent man. How much we are deceived by the look for things…


Perhaps the Sacred Cross was already saturated with the blood of Our Blessed Lord when it was thrust upon Simon? Perhaps it was slimy with the spittle of those who spat at Him? Perhaps the timber of the Cross pushed splinters into Simon’s fingers as it had pushed splinters under the flesh of our Blessed Lord? Maybe Simon’s back already ached and it was hurting all the more under the heavy burden of the Holy Cross? Maybe Simon felt the blows and the abuse that were directed to Our Lord?


I imagine that at first Simon rejected such a burden, but as he walked beside my Beloved, how his mind must have changed…


For Christ – in SILENCE – allowed a mere man, and a sinful one at that (for we are ALL of us sinful, with the exception of Christ, Our Blessed Mother and Saint John the Baptist, born without sin) to carry His Cross.


And because of this, Christ became a burden to another – He allowed it. He – who had raised men from the dead and would soon raise even HIMSELF from the dead – allowed the world to see Him as weak. He did not stop it. He did not excuse it. He kept silent. And walked beside the man who helped Him by carrying His Cross.


And now – and for all eternity – Simon of Cyrene can say, “I carried the Cross of the Son of Man. It was I who carried it.”

My Beloved suffered great humility for love of Simon – and He suffers great humility for me too, and for you, every single time He allows us to shoulder the burden of our Cross.

For Simon gained such Graces and Merits that day in carrying that Cross. And for this, his cries can echo through eternity for Simon can say…


“I carried the Cross of the Son of Man. It was I who carried it.”


And so I pray, my Lord and my God, make me like Simon, give me some share in Your Holy Cross… Be Humble for me also. Be Humble for me, for I too wish to proclaim for all eternity…


“I carried the Cross of the Son of Man. It was I who carried it.”


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

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