If there is one figure who stands out for me during the reading of the Passion narrative, it is Simon, the man who was compelled to help carry the cross of Jesus. Upon his shoulders was placed a burden he had not planned to carry, a weight that was perhaps previously unknown to him. We don’t know his inner thoughts as he received the heavy cross and together with Jesus dragged it, stumbling perhaps, toward Golgatha. But we do know that Jesus was there beside him. This must have been transformative.
Simon of Cyrene steps in… By James Patrick Reid
Of all the teachings of the church, the one we will turn to in our worst moments may well be this one: when we unite our suffering with the suffering of Jesus we will find our burden transformed, shared, made bearable, and at the same time made meaningful in a way we could not have imagined. To unite with Jesus in suffering and pain is to find a purpose in what otherwise seems to be senseless. It is to participate in some way with the great drama of redemption.
But it is not easy. I tend to have dark moments before I can agree to the cross, moments when a heavy despairing darkness wraps around me. “Lord Jesus, help me.” And then our Lord, who carried upon his shoulders the cross of every pain and burden comes to me. I have never known the public trial and humiliation he knew, never endured the sheer physical pain he endured , and still he says “I will carry your cross with you.” In my own weakness, it may be a period of time before I can pray the words with Jesus, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
“Offer it up” is the old Catholic saying. Offer to Jesus every minor irritation, hurt, annoyance or sorrow, so that when the time comes for great crashing waves of grief and pain we will instinctively offer to unite with Jesus what we could not otherwise bear. And there, inexplicably, we will find a measure of peace, even joy.
Simon of Cyrene teaches that when we suffer we meet Jesus; he teaches us to walk with Jesus on the path of pain. He shows us that we can walk with Jesus all the way to Golgatha, to our own death if necessary, without walking alone, and never senselessly to the extent that we freely unite our will with that of our Lord’s. For that is what walking with Jesus truly means. Simon’s action was an acceptance of God’s will for himself, and thus a joining together with Jesus in the inevitable pain of carrying that large wooden beam .
May God be praised for Simon of Cyrene and for allowing us to find meaning in our suffering.
May the most just, the most lovable,
and the most high Will of God be done,
be fulfilled, be praised and exalted
in all things forever.
Simon of Cyrene carries the Cross for Jesus, at Saint Anne’s Shrine, Bukit Mertajam, the capital of Central Seberang Perai, Penang, Malaysia.
By James Patrick Reid
Tags: Bukit Mertajam, carry the cross of Jesus, Catholic, church, death, faith, Golgatha, Malaysia, offer it up, pain, Passion narrative, Penang, Redemption, religion, Saint Anne's Shrine, Seberang Perai, Simon of Cyrene. carries the Cross for Jesus, spirituality, suffering, unite with Jesus in suffering and pain