By Father Omar
A brother priest told me the other day that his favorite Station of the Cross is “Simon of Cyrene carries the cross of Jesus”. A couple of days later Deacon Jim and his wife Bonnie gave me a prayer card with a nice Lenten prayer and the image on the card is Jesus walking next to the cross, but the person carrying the cross is actually Simon of Cyrene. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us that the soldiers forced a man called Simon from Cyrene to carry the cross of Jesus.
For me, Lent is usually a time when I see myself walking with my little cross behind Jesus, but this Lent has been unique and extremely special. This is the first time I feel I am being forced to carry the cross of Jesus.
I feel like I am Simon of Cyrene, and if I had to choose a title for this homily I would say: The Spirituality of Simon of Cyrene. This spirituality is unique because in this spirituality we do not choose but instead we are chosen to carry the cross of Christ. Haven’t you said to yourself lately, “This is not what I asked for when I prayed for a good Lent. I was comfortable with the resolution of giving up candy and chocolate and not in my wildest imagination did I ever think that I could be asked to give up this much!" We have become Simons of Cyrene because we have been pressed into service.
Some have speculated that Simon of Cyrene was a man who showed some sympathy for Jesus and that’s why they made him carry His Cross; or maybe the soldiers just chose him because he looked strong and fit for the job. We don’t know because the Scriptures don’t say it; but I think we have been chosen by these circumstances because we are sympathetic with Jesus. I mean, we call ourselves His followers, His disciples. Don’t we? And maybe God wants to make us stronger in our faith. This is just me speculating now because, “For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?" (Romans 11:34).
We have been asked to give up what we love the most "for a little while". Think about this: When Jesus was arrested, He was taken away from the Apostles and from all His disciples also. All of the sudden, they were like sheep without a shepherd; feeling insecure and vulnerable. Have you felt like that in these last days? What a privilege to walk in the footsteps of the first disciples of Jesus for a little time.
But you know what? We have something that Simon of Cyrene didn’t have, and this makes us stronger and better equipped to carry the cross of Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit. We have the intercession of our Heavenly Mother, St Mary. We have the intercession of all the Saints in Heaven. We have the support of a community; and most especially we know how this story ends. We know that Resurrection comes after the Crucifixion. We know that Resurrection will come! In last Sunday’s Gospel Jesus told Martha: “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” Martha didn’t stop believing in Jesus even after facing the death of her brother: and she saw the glory of God like no other.
My dear brothers and sisters, this Holy Week will be a tough test for every one of us; and God’s expectations is that we might pass the test. Our love for God is now and will continue to go thru fire, and because of this our faith will be purified. I invite you to persevere. Embrace the Cross of Jesus and walk -We are in this together; and We will see the glory of God if we keep our faith in Jesus. God bless you !
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