Jesus is exhausted. His footsteps become more and more unsteady, and the soldiers are in a hurry to be finished. So, when they are going out of the city through the Judgement Gate, they take hold of a man who was coming in from a farm, a man called Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus, and they force him to carry the Cross of Jesus (cf. Mark 15:21).
In the whole context of the Passion, this help does not add up to very much. But for Jesus, a smile, a word, a gesture, a little bit of love is enough for him to pour out his grace bountifully on the soul of his friend. Years later, Simon 's sons, Christians by then, will be known and held in high esteem among their brothers in the faith. And it all started with this unexpected meeting with the Cross.
I went to those who were not looking for me; I was found by those that sought me not (Isai 65:1).
At times the Cross appears without our looking for it: it is Christ who is seeking us out. And if by chance, before this unexpected Cross which, perhaps, is therefore more difficult to understand, your heart were to show repugnance... don 't give it consolations. And, filled with a noble compassion, when it asks for them, say to it slowly, as one speaking in confidence: 'Heart: heart on the Cross! Heart on the Cross! '
Points for meditation
1. Do you to know how to thank Our Lord for all he has done for us?... With love! There is no other way.
Love is with love repaid. But the real proof of affection is given by sacrifice. So, take courage!: deny yourself and take up his Cross. Then you will be sure you are returning him love for Love.
2. It is not too late, nor is everything lost...
Even though to you it may seem so. Even though a thousand foreboding voices keep saying so. Even though you are besieged by mocking and sceptical onlookers... You have come at a good time to take up the Cross: the Redemption is taking place —now! — and Jesus needs many Simons of Cyrene.
3. To bring happiness to its loved one, a noble heart will not hesitate before sacrifice. To bring comfort to a suffering face, a great soul will overcome all repugnance and give itself unstintingly...And God, does he deserve less than a piece of flesh, than a handful of clay?
Learn to mortify your whims. Accept setbacks without exaggerating them, without throwing up your arms, without... hysterics. In that way you will lighten the Cross for Jesus.
4. This day has salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:9-10).
Zacchaeus, Simon of Cyrene, Dismas, the centurion. . .
Now you know why Our Lord has sought you out. Thank him!... But opere et veritate, with deeds and in truth.
5. How can I really love the Holy Cross of Jesus?... Long for it!... Ask Our Lord for the strength to implant it in every heart throughout the length and breadth of this world. And then... make atonement with joy; and try also to love him with the beating of all those hearts that as yet do not love him.
There is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be attracted to him. Despised and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity; and his look was as it were hidden and despised . Whereupon we esteemed him not (Isai 53:2-3).
And it is the Son of God who is passing by, a madman... madly in Love!
A woman, Veronica by name, makes her way through the crowd, with a white linen cloth folded in her hands, and with this she reverently wipes the face of Jesus. Our Lord leaves the impression of his Holy Face on the three parts of that veil.
The beloved face of Jesus, that had smiled upon children and was transfigured with glory on Mount Thabor, is now, as it were, concealed by suffering. But this suffering is our purification; the sweat and the blood, which disfigure and tarnish his features, serve to cleanse us.
Lord, help me decide to tear off, through penance, this pitiful mask I have fashioned with my wretched doings... Then, and only then, by following the path of contemplation and atonement, will my life begin to copy faithfully the features of your life. We will find ourselves becoming more and more like You.
We will be other Christs, Christ himself, ipse Christus.
Points for meditation
1. Our sins were the cause of the Passion: of that torture which disfigured the most lovable countenance of Jesus, perfectus Deus, perfectus homo. And again it is our wretchedness that impedes us now from contemplating Our Lord, and makes his figure appear dark and distorted.
When our sight is blurred, when our eyes are clouded, we need to go to the light. And Christ has said: Ego sum lux mundi! (John 8:12), I am the light of the world. And he adds: He that follows me walks not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
2. Get to know the Sacred Humanity of Jesus... And He will place in your soul an insatiable hunger an 'uncontrollable ' yearning to contemplate his Face.
In this longing, which it is impossible to satisfy on earth, you will often find your consolation.
3. St Peter writes: through Jesus Christ, God has given us high and treasured promises, to make you sharers in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).
This divinisation of ours does not mean that we cease to be human... Men, yes, but with a horror of grave sin. Men who loathe venial faults and who, while having daily experience of their weakness, are aware too of the power of God.
This way nothing can stop us: neither human respect, nor our passions, nor this flesh of ours which rebels because of our baseness, nor pride, nor... loneliness.
A Christian is never alone... If you feel abandoned, it is because you do not want to look at that Christ who is passing so close to you... perhaps with the Cross.
4. Ut in gratiarum semper actione maneamus!, may we be always giving thanks. Dear God, thank you, thank you for everything: for what goes against me, for what I don 't understand, for the things that make me suffer.
The blows are necessary to hack away what is superfluous from the huge block of marble. That is how God sculptures the image of his Son in souls. Be grateful to God for those caresses!
5. When we Christians have a hard time of it, it is because we are not giving to this life all its divine meaning.
Where the hand feels the prick of thorns, the eyes discover a bunch of splendid, fragrant roses.
Taken from: The Way of the Cross, St. Josemaria Escriva