“As they led him away, they seized a man from Cyrene named Simon, who was returning from the country. They put the cross on his back and forced him to carry it behind Jesus.” (Luke 23:26)
V. We adore you, O Christ, and praise you:
R. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Meditation: Suffering with Christ
This station tells the story of Simon of Cyrene, who was there that day and was plucked from the crowd to help Christ. Why did this happen? It seems that Jesus was no longer able to carry the cross on his own – and the soldiers were worried that he might die before reaching Calvary. Someone else had to be drafted in to lighten his load – and Simon was the one chosen.
We are told that Simon was returning from “the country” – he had probably been labouring in the fields. After a hard day’s work, when he was tired and wanted to rest, he was made to help a total stranger. The task was inconvenient, stressful and physically draining. In our own lives, we may also find the cross forced on us, when unexpected suffering comes our way.
When this happens, we are not alone. Simon helped Christ to carry his cross; in our sufferings, Christ helps us to carry ours. As the Psalmist sang, “Blessed be the Lord, day after day, the God of our salvation, who carries our burden.” (Psalm 68:19) In this way, Christ suffers with us, and we with him.
O Jesus, when the cross feels too heavy for me to carry, help me to remember that like Simon of Cyrene, you are holding it right behind me. Lord, your grace is enough for me; when I am weak, make me strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Sign from the Old Testament
Aaron and Hur helped Moses to bear the weight of his arms, while standing for hours with his hands raised in prayer. (Exodus 17:8-13)
See the full image:
Alois de Beule / Fifth Station of the Cross / Painted terracotta panel / 1893 / Shrine of St Augustine, Ramsgate