Palm Sunday 2017
In today’s Gospel of Matthew we hear of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Passover and the details of the Passion. Buried in this lengthy reading we come across a single verse mentioning Simon of Cyrene.
As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross. Matt 27:32
Simon physically picked up Jesus’ cross and walked behind him to the Crucifixion. Did he react at this unexpected turn of events with surprise, annoyance, reluctance or maybe even embarrassment? The same emotions I might have when called into service that I would really like to avoid. Did he accept what he had to do with sympathy for the other? Or with resentment, anger or bitterness? How was his life changed afterward? This bystander who became a servant to Christ during His Passion has been my focus this Lenten Season.
All of our crosses are different, Simon’s, yours and mine but the reactions are often the same. The cross was unexpected for Simon and is often unexpected for us.
In Chapter 53: The Reception of Guests, Benedict tells us “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ…”
Benedict knew that all guests have needs and often arrive at the most inconvenient time, as do our crosses and the crosses of others.
Benedict’s words and the actions of Simon of Cyrene continue to show us that in carrying our own crosses and at times the crosses of others, we show the world yet again there is another way.
Is there a cross in my life or of another that I am trying to avoid?
Does my behavior in carrying my cross bring me and others closer to Christ?
Rita Zimmermann, OblSB, St. Benedict Monastery, Bristow, VA
Homiletic and Review, April 13, 2014: Simon of Cyrene by Richard J. Grebenc
Artwork: Sieger Köder & Katherin Burleson