LENTEN REFLECTION – Wednesday of the Fifth Week – 5 April 2017
The Cross of Christ and Simon of Cyrene
And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. – Mark 15:21
Our blessed Lord falls again and again beneath the weight of the cross, until it becomes evident to the soldiers that He will never be able to drag it to the place of execution. They accordingly lay hold of a heathen passing by, Simon the Cyrenian and him they compel to carry the cross. How little Simon knew the happiness in store for him when those rough soldiers seize him and force him to the ignominious task of carrying for a public criminal the instrument of his punishment! How often we too fail to recognise in the sudden disagreeables and contradictions we encounter God’s wonderful designs of mercy to us!
Simon at first bore the cross surlily and reluctantly, chafing under the hardship inflicted on him. But as he carries it, somehow an unaccountable change comes over him. It has the virtue to change his heart and to make of him a devoted follower of the Crucified, one of the pillars of the Apostolic Church. Thus many a cross that we carry reluctantly turns out to be really the means of our sanctification and salvation.
Before Simon arrives at the summit of Calvary, the cross has endeared itself to him. He has recognised that to carry it for Jesus was no hardship but a privilege and a happiness. So too the saints learn to love the cross, to embrace it, to seek it, to carry it with all joy, to be almost discontented if they are without it. This is the very height of peace and felicity; for those who find their joy in the cross find everywhere around them cause for rejoicing.
– from The Sacred Passion of Jesus Christ: Short Meditations for Lent, by Father Richard Frederick Clark, S.J.