Categories
Ink Slingers Michelle Spiritual Growth Uncategorized

Simon of Cyrene

If you have ever read or heard the Passion of Jesus then you have heard of Simon of Cyrene.  Chosen out of the crowd of onlookers to help Christ carry his cross, Simon bore the weight of Jesus’ burden for a small amount of time.

There is such significance in the short line in the Gospel that reads, As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.Matthew 27:32. How hard that must have been for him!  Picking up the cross of a condemned man was surely an embarrassment.  It also rendered him defiled and unable to participate in the Passover festivities and meal.  Still, pressed into service, he obeyed and helped Jesus carry His cross.  In depictions of this act we see Simon being forced to help, but as he nears the end, he is willing to help with this arduous task.  I can only imagine the awe he felt when they reached the top of Golgotha where Jesus would lose His life.  What a life changing experience for Simon and his family.

We often have crosses that are too heavy for us to bear alone.  We have all heard Jesus’ words from Matthew 16:24 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”  But how hard is it for us to do just that?  Often we stumble, as Christ did on his journey with His cross, and we need someone to help us carry the burdens that are just too heavy to carry alone.  Thankfully God, in His wisdom, still provides just the right people to help us along the way… our very own Simons of Cyrene.

All too often we feel like we have to carry our crosses alone.  Of course God is always there to help us shoulder the weight of the cross but He also gives us both heavenly and earthly helpers just when we need them.  Do we see them for what they are worth?

The Simons of the world come in so many varieties.  Some may be quiet prayerful friends whom you can ask to pray for you and for your worries.  Others may be the friend who sends you funny, pick-me-up cards in the mail to make you smile.  Some may call you and talk for hours and yet others might be the friends who sit quietly and listen.  Simon might be found in a stranger at Mass who compliments you on your beautiful family not realizing that right before you got there you had yelled about missing shoes, socks and coats.  He might be found in the kindness of a stranger who pays for your meal in front of you at a fast food restaurant, even if you only ordered something small.   Simon may be in the gentle smile of the nurse who is tending to your sick child or the friend who takes your children for the day “just because”.   He is there when someone helps us financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

God knew that our crosses were not going to be easy to bear.  He knew that following His Son would require great faith and strong shoulders.  However, He also knew that there would be times we cannot do it alone.  Just as He provided Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry His cross, God also provides us with people in our lives to bear the weight of our crosses when they become too heavy to hold alone.

I urge you to think about the people in your life whom God has provided to you to help carry your crosses.  Pray for them.  Thank God for them.  Show them how thankful you are that they are in your life and that they are willing to shoulder your burdens, your worries, your hardships, and your sorrows.

We are all called to be like Simon of Cyrene.  We are called to help each other in our struggles.  Are we Simon for others?  If not, why not?  We are reminded in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

When you feel overwhelmed, when you feel alone, when you feel your worries are too heavy to bear, remember that Christ also needed someone to help Him carry His cross as well.  Go to God, go to Jesus, go to those He has provided to help ease your burdens.  Find the Simons in your life and let them help you carry your cross.

Categories
Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Michelle

Crucify Him!

Today, Good Friday, we commemorate our Savior’s death on the cross at Calvary.  We shroud our crucifixes, leave our altars bare, empty our holy water fonts, fast, and mourn the loss of Jesus.   Our faith tells us that this day is a day like no other.  Our actions reflect this knowledge.  Our hearts ache at the thought of Jesus being scourged, crowned with thorns, and forced to carry his heavy cross through the streets until he came to stop at Golgotha.  We close our eyes and force the pain away as we envision our Lord being nailed to his cross and lifted into place where he would await his death.  We cry in agony with Jesus as he breathes his last breath and commends his spirit to God.   Today is a day of pain, of sorrow, of mourning.  It is a day like no other.

On Palm Sunday we read of Christ’s grand entrance into the city, seated on a donkey, palms extended to him like royalty.  Days later that joy would be turned to anger, deceit, and vengeance.  What would go so wrong in those few days to bring about our Lord’s death?

We can look historically at all that went on during those days that led up to Jesus’ death.  We can look at the Sanhedrin, we can look at those who doubted and hated Jesus, as well as we can look at Judas and his ultimate betrayal and kiss of death.  Where we often don’t look though, is within ourselves.   How did we bring about Christ’s death?

On Palm Sunday as we read about Christ’s trial before Pilate we are encouraged to respond during the Gospel reading.  Each part of the Gospel is read by a participant.  In our parish Jesus was read by our Priest, Peter was read by our deacon, several men stepped up to fill in the parts of the Judas, the high priests and Pontius Pilate.  The congregation was the crowd gathered at Jesus’ trial.   As the Gospel reading was read we came to our part where Pilate asks the crowd what he should do with Jesus, whom he has found no fault, and the crowd shouts, “Crucify him!”  With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I am unable to read these lines.  I am unable to voice those words, “crucify him”.   Even though I am unable to say the words I know that my life and my sins have indeed crucified my Savior.

Christ’s death was not just about what was happening during the time he lived.  It was not just the priests who were jealous of him, it was not just the refusal to see the miracle of God made man, nor was it the betrayal of Jesus for 30 silver pieces.   It was a reflection of our lives, of our sins, of our refusal to live as God as calls us to live.  It was God sending his only Son to save us before we were even born, to open the gates of Heaven so that we have the hope of everlasting life.  Christ’s death encompassed more than his own era, it was a result of the sins of those who lived before him, those who lived with him and those of us who have lived after him.

We must understand that we are responsible for Christ on the cross.  We are responsible for the pain that each blow caused our Lord, of the agony that he felt as the nails tore through his hands and feet.   We must understand that our sins, our refusal to live as we are called, have placed Christ beaten and bleeding before us, dying.  It was not just those who lived in the same time that Christ lived but it is us, living now, that are also responsible for all that our Lord suffered.

Today is a day like no other.  We see our sins and our failings so clearly.  We see how we may not have shouted “crucify him!” with our voices but our actions and inactions have said those very words.  We see what Christ had to give in order for us to be saved.   While we see this sadness and sorrow, we also catch a glimpse of what is to come.  We see in Christ’s suffering and death the greatest gift of all, the gift of salvation.   To take advantage of this gift we must place our failings, our sins, our shortcomings, our fears, and our sorrows upon the cross with Jesus.  We must turn our back on the sins that nailed our Lord’s hands and feet so securely to the cross and we must vow to turn our lives and hearts back to God.  Today we must die on the cross with Christ.   To do anything less is to waste the gift that Christ has given us.

On this day we are surrounded by sadness.  We have lost our beloved Jesus.  We have lost ourselves.  We have seen the effects of our sins and the damage they have done.  However, today, on Good Friday, we have hope.  Because of the great sacrifice on the cross we know that we have the gift of everlasting life awaiting us.  We must be willing to sacrifice ourselves though and join Christ on the cross in order to receive it.  I ask you, are you willing to suffer with Christ?  Are you willing to accept the gift of salvation that Jesus secured for you?  Are you willing to turn your back on sin and live your life for God?

Our actions often shout “crucify him!”, but now is the time to change that.  Today, on this day of sorrow, let us ask God for forgiveness, place our lives in His hands, share the space on the cross, and accept His gift of everlasting life.   Let us see the “Good” in Good Friday.  Let us know that we are so loved that God would send His only Son to suffer in such a way that we could be given the hope for life forever with our precious Savior.   We need to stop shouting “crucify him!” and we need to live our lives in a manner that glorifies Christ and that honors his sacrifice for us.

Today is a day like no other… today we pick up our crosses and walk side by side with Christ.