Station 5 – The cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene

Scripture Reading

Romans 6:5-11
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will
also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 6:2
Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Mark 15:21
They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Please take time to reflect on the image below.

Meditation from the preachers

From Revd Andrew & Revd Peta

Revd Andrew:

Lord God we stand in awe of the mystery of Suffering, help us to bear our cross with humility and courage as we walk in your ways and reveal your truth.

I don’t think anyone can say that they have never suffered. I think that in some way we have all suffered at the hands of others. Suffering is however relative. Someone out there has always suffered more, carried a bigger load and felt pain more than we have.

The Fifth station calls to mind the injustice in life of the world’s system and the impact of sinfulness upon our lives.

What did carrying the cross mean to Simon of Cyrene, and what does it teach us about the cross that we bear?

Firstly, it was unjust. He had done nothing to deserve the pain of bearing the heavy load of that cross. But then neither had Jesus.

Roman Soldiers had the right to make any non-Roman citizen carry their load for a mile. Jesus’s cross was a burden to the soldiers because he was slowing them down, each time he fell he slowed down their progress, and so they exercised their right to take a foreigner and make them carry the load.

Simon reminds us that the load that we bear is part of our salvation. Our suffering is part of being in community, our suffering is because we are connected, it is not a personal punishment. Suffering is the result of the sin of the world not just of our own personal sin.

Jesus went to Golgatha carrying the cross that represented the sin of the world and Simon was carrying the cross of Jesus the cross of the sins of the world. We are called to share with Jesus in the salvation of others through carrying the burden of that sin to a place where forgiveness is given.

 When we carry a burden, it is for the sake of Jesus, it is for the sake of overcoming, through having a heart for the poor and broken and weak and badly treated and under-valued, in society.

Simon, Carrying the cross of Jesus is not an acceptance of the injustice of the world and a resignation to its plight.

Suffering is not God’s will for us. We are to bring the suffering of the world to God daily in prayer.

Think about a burden that you have. Have you realised that it is Jesus Cross that you must carry, it is not for your downfall that you are faced with challenges in this life, your suffering is your connection with the world and with Christ. Your suffering is there to remind you to be compassionate to others, caring and kind and to fight against injustice.

It is not through suffering that you are saved, it is through understanding that carrying the cross of Jesus for the world, and bringing that cross to the place where Jesus wins the victory for us all, is the purpose of our suffering.

Call to mind anything that you consider as suffering in your life. How can that make you more mindful of the plight of others and of the struggle of others and how can your suffering be the means of God unifying you with Jesus and with others?

Let us pray.

Merciful Lord,
Simon of Cyrene carried the cross of our Saviour Jesus Christ:
grant that we who have been baptised into his death and resurrection may daily take up the cross and follow him;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever.
Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Strong,
Holy and Immortal
Have mercy on us.

Revd Peta:

Luke 23:26

Jesus had been tried and unjustly condemned to be crucified as a criminal. He was now on the road to Calvary carrying his Cross. But under the weight of the cross he had stumbled several times and it seemed to the Roman soldiers that his strength was beginning to fail. Here we see Jesus’ true humanity he was a man at the end of his endurance. The Roman soldiers fearing that Jesus would die on the way robbing them of the humiliating death they had planned for Jesus death on the Cross.

They looked around to find someone to help Jesus. In the crowed there was a man called Simon of Cyrene a Jew who had traveled in from the country to fulfill his life long ambition to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

Palestine was an occupied country and any citizen could be pressed into service by the Roman government. The sign was a sharp tap on the shoulder by a Roman spear.

Simon who one minute had been a spectator watching the horror of a man carrying a cross, with one tap on the shoulder became himself part of the procession walking to Calvary helping Jesus by carrying his cross. His heart must have been filled with bitterness towards the Romans and towards this criminal who had involved him in his crime.

God can turn even human wrath and mistakes to serve his purpose of salvation. So as Simon carries the cross for Jesus his bitterness turns to wonder and faith, in sharing Jesus burden he has found Jesus his Saviour and redeemer.

We are all part of God’s amazing plan. As shown in this passage from Luke. We all have our part to play in spreading the Gospel. Simon and his family became Christians and he is remembered as the father of Alexander and Rufus well known members of the early Christian church. (Mark 15:21)

As we reflect on this passage in Luke, we should remind ourselves that we also have our own part to play, in contributing to the spread of the gospel. As we follow Jesus and carry his Cross, we can be sure that God will use our small labours within his larger work.

Are we ready today to help others carry their crosses?
Are we ready to see a suffering Jesus in victims of injustices of our time – the poor and needy, the refugees and those affected by the Corona Virus?

Reflection

Once we were like Simon, minding our own business, with a job to do and the health to do it.  Simon came into town on some errand of his own, when suddenly he was caught up in a terrible event, plucked from the crowd to help carry a cross for a stranger on His way to crucifixion. Yes, that is how it was for us, living an ordinary life when suddenly God drew us to the side of Christ with sickness, asking us to carry his cross a little way. Yes, now we share in his passion, and other Simons come forth to help us on the way. We are grateful for them, and we want the grace to be grateful for this gift sharing in Christ’s passion, which is now ours.

Western culture has promoted the ideal of the self-sufficient person who does not need anyone else. We should stand on our own feet. It is humiliating to need others, especially strangers. But this dependency is part of being human, and it is embraced by God in Jesus at this moment. God said to St. Catherine of Siena, “I could well have supplied each of you with all your needs, both spiritually and material. But I wanted to make you dependent on one another so that each of you would be my minister, dispensing the graces and gifts you have received from me.” In Jesus we see God needing us, needing a drink from the Samaritan woman at the well, needing help with carrying his cross. It is okay to be needy.

Jesus, may I be unashamed to accept help when I need it, and may I be eager to offer it when others have needs. May our mutual dependence be a source of joy and an occasion of grace, knitting us together in the community of your love. Amen. 

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
strengthen the bonds of our community.
Help us to extend the spirit of mercy
and compassion to all our brothers
and sisters.
Make us ever mindful that we journey
this difficult road together.
We pray this through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.