We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.
As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus.
He can’t go on. He is exhausted. No amount of pulling, pushing, flogging and screaming will make Him. He is too weak, and in too much pain. The guards can’t make Him carry that cross all the way to Calvary. He’ll never last that long. They won’t get to have their fun if He isn’t helped, but the guards don’t want to help.
The Lover of Mankind has become a burden.
There is a law, that a Roman can press a foreigner into service, to carry a burden for one mile. Here is a foreigner, Simon of Cyrene. The Romans press him into service, to carry the cross with Jesus.
Simon doesn’t know that he’s been pressed into carrying the ciborium; he doesn’t know he’s taking part in the fulfillment of the Old Covenant, the wedding feast of the King’s Son, the sacrifice of God to God. The guards don’t know it either. One of them could have picked up the cross, and we’d know their name for all generations, just as we know Simon’s. But they didn’t pick it up. They pressed Simon into service, and Simon will be remembered as the one who helped Christ.
Now, Christ knows the agony of being a burden. Now, everyone who’s ever been thought of or treated as a burden, or felt themselves to be a burden, is one with Christ. Now everyone who needs help to bear her cross, is one with Christ. Now the disabled, the sick, the elderly, children and the dying, are made into a new kind of icon. They were created in the image of God, and are icons of God, but from this day throughout eternity they are also icons of the suffering Christ, who needed help to bear His cross.
If you have been helpless, you are one with Him. If you’ve felt like a burden to someone you love, so has He. If you have been neglected or abused by your caregiver, you have suffered with Christ. If you know what it’s like for the trauma of sickness to be compounded by the trauma of abuse or neglect, the King knows it as well. If the ones who helped you have done so grudgingly, not knowing that you were an icon– Christ’s Heart broke with yours. It was Christ they hurt. He will take your suffering to the Cross with His own, and return it to you as glory in the end.
The Father looks at the stairs you couldn’t climb, the one step you couldn’t get over, the line you couldn’t stand in, the job you couldn’t do, and sees the Way of the Cross.
The Heavenly Father looks at those who failed to help and those who helped grudgingly, those who abused you and those who ignored you, and sees the guards who pressed a foreigner into carrying the cross to Calvary, to murder the Son of God.
The King of Heaven looks at your wheelchair, your hospital bed, the psych ward, the crutches, the house you don’t get to leave because people forget to take you along with them, your room nobody visits because they have forgotten you. And all He can see is the Ciborium and the Cross.
He looks at you and sees His son.
When this is over, when you go before the Throne of Glory, He will show your via dolorosa to the whole world. Everyone will understand what you endured. Everyone who saw you as burden will see that you were Christ. And the Father will give you His Son’s crown and the highest place, because Christ took your passion as His own.
(image via Wikimedia Commons)
(Steel Magnificat will be meditating on the Way of the Cross on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout Lent. All Stations are linked in this post.)