Life’s Unexpected Moments
“As they led him (Jesus) away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the countryside; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus”. (Luke 23:26)
I always seemed to just brush aside the fact that Simon helped Jesus carry his Cross when I would pray these Stations in the past. Looking at and reflecting about this story in more depth and detail now, I have to be honest, this is kind of bizarre. Simon, a simple man with a family, who was working in the fields, unexpectedly is pulled and forced by soldiers to carry the Cross of a convicted man who he had no information about. Can you imagine that? Obviously, we were not there in Simon’s time nor we do we know much about him, but we could imagine that he was shocked, confused, and probably really angry that he had to carry this giant, heavy cross in front of so many people for a man he didn’t even know.
I think sometimes in our lives we can be like Simon. We may be asked to do things unexpectedly that we really do not want to do. There have been times this year where I’ve felt like that sometimes – whether being asked to do something for one of my students when I really am not in the mental space to do so or being put out of my comfort zone with a conversation or encounter in community…our lives are FULL of unexpected and challenging moments. Simon’s moment like this was being there with Jesus, whether he liked it or not. What his response to this moment after he helped Jesus remains to be explored or discovered.
Nevertheless, how have we responded to those unexpected and challenging events in our lives?
With anger? Excitement? Anxiety? An open mind?
How can we, like Simon, welcome the unexpected and challenging experiences in our lives with grace and with openness?
Closing prayer from the Catholic News Agency’s reflection on Simon of Cyrene:
Lord Jesus, you opened the eyes and heart of Simon of Cyrene, and you gave him, by his share in your Cross, the grace of faith. Help us to aid our neighbors in need, even when this interferes with our own plans and desires. Help us to realize that it is a grace to be able to share the cross of others and, in this way, know that we are walking with you along the way. Help us to appreciate with joy that, when we share in your suffering and the sufferings of this world, we become servants of salvation and are able to help build up your Body, the Church on Earth. Amen.