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simon of cyrene helps carry the cross
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.
After Jesus was beaten and scourged, he was handed over for crucifixion. The gospel of John says that Jesus carried his cross toward Golgotha. The other gospel writers tell of another man who carried the cross of Jesus. Tradition suggests that Jesus fell under the weight of his cross and a bystander was commissioned to carry it for him. This man was Simon of Cyrene, a port city in North Africa.
It has been believed that Simon of Cyrene was so moved by his experience of carrying the cross for Jesus that he and his family became devout leaders and missionaries in the early life of the Church.
According to the Gospel of Luke, Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Was this the same Rufus mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Romans? Was Simon one of men of Cyrene who went up to Antioch to preach the gospel?
We don’t know for sure. However, it’s clear that this man Simon and his sons came to be known by the gospel writers on a first name basis. They did not disappear into anonymity after their encounter with the cross and the man crucified upon it.
As we focus on Simon of Cyrene in this passage, consider how he might have been impacted by the blood, tears and sweat of Jesus smeared upon his body as he heaved the weight of the cross upon his back.
How might it have impacted you to share the weight of sin and the weight of glory with Jesus?
Fall by Lynn Staggs
As I worked on this piece, I reflected on Jesus, weak and bloodied, receiving the help of a foreigner who was most likely a stranger. Then, I reflected on Simon who was pulled from the crowd into this duty. Truth be told, I am a good and joyful helper. However, I have had to learn to receive help. Then I had to learn to receive help graciously and gratefully. Truth be told, I am still learning.
Materials: Assorted papers and adhesives, acrylic paint sponged over plastic produce packaging.
What does the artist's statement help you see in the painting that you did not notice at first?
When called into helping, what is your way of being? When you need help, what is your way of being?
What do the colors, textures and postures stir in you?
What does this reveal to you about the passion of Jesus?
Imagine that you are Jesus. What might it have been like for Jesus to share his cross with another - with a foreigner? How do you feel as you watch him hoist the cross upon his shoulders?
Now imagine that you are Simon of Cyrene. How do you feel as you hoist the burden of another man’s cross upon your shoulders? Do you feel compelled to carry the burden of the cross out of fear, obligation, or love?
Not long ago, Jesus had told his disciples,
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9)
As Simon took up the cross and followed Jesus, he was called into solidarity with someone who is suffering. What does this call to solidarity sound like for you? What would be difficult for you to lose in order to follow Jesus?
O God of grace and might, accept our prayers and sacrifices, and be moved to have mercy on us. Strengthen us in our weakness, so that our rebellious wills may yield to your divine will in all things. This we ask you, through Christ our Lord. Amen.