Scripture”As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.” (Mt: 27: 32)ReflectionSimon the Cyrene was not a willing helper to Jesus. Different translations of Matthew’s gospel use the verb “compelled” and “forced” to describe how Simon came to be part of Jesus’ long walk to Calvary. In Luke’s account Simon is described as being “seized” by the soldiers. (Luke 23:26) This was not exactly a volunteer job. And yet, through this experience, Simon was given the privilege of assisting the Lord in carrying the very cross that would be his salvation – the salvation of all the world.The cross is the source of life and blessings, hidden under pain and suffering. However, we will only experience the life that the cross and resurrection promises us if we are willing to not only pick up our own crosses, but also help others carry theirs. St. Paul instructs the Galatians to “bear one another’s burdens” ( Gal 6:2) In spite of these words, we may find ourselves, like Simon, reluctant partners in the bearing of someone else’s cross. Willingly entering into the pain of another person, whether that pain is physical, spiritual or emotional, is never easy. It is far “safer” to stand aside, like the crowds surrounding Jesus, and watch from a distance. Helping to carry another’s cross requires strength, perseverance, patience and love. It requires the openness to experience pain ourselves, in solidarity with that person. Perhaps we identify with Simon this Holy Week – finding ourselves sharing the cross with someone else. We may be embarrassed at our own reluctance to help and wondering what difference our assistance is really making. The scriptures do not tell us how Simon’s help impacted Jesus. Likewise, we may never know the extent to which our help blesses another person.

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