Simon of Cyrene
Originally scheduled for April 14
In the Scriptures there are three instances of
taking up the Cross:
There is the command of Christ that
each of us must daily take up the cross.
There is the example of Christ
carrying the cross to Golgotha.
And, curiously, there is the example
of Simon of Cyrene being pressed into carrying the cross for Christ.
Simon the Libyan, as he might be called today,
is little remarked upon. We know from other accounts that he was the
father of two Christians who were prominent in the Roman church. The
reason this is mentioned is probably that it distinguishes him from
a large number of other people named Simon. We know that he came
from the city named Cyrene which is founded what is today Libya.
Otherwise, Simon of Cyrene might just simply be Simon the Anonymous.
Anonymous: the picture of the ordinary,
everyday Christian. In a sense he is the picture of all of us, in
that we are all commanded to carry the cross. But he is also a
picture of each of us: he was just an ordinary guy who was in the
wrong place at the wrong time and got stuck with the job he really
didn’t want. But somebody had to do it, and somebody picked Simon.
He’s the person the medieval
church would’ve called “Everyman.” So it is logical to
conclude that Simon, representing all of us and each of us, teaches
us that we must carry the cross. Somehow or other, we have to
participate in the cross too.
How do we participate in the cross?
One way is in baptism. We are taught
that baptism is a picture of death, burial and resurrection; surely
you can see the cross in that.
Another way is in communion. We are
taught that communion is to bring to our memory the body and blood —
that is, the sacrifice — of our Lord. “This is my body,” he said.
When we partake, we are proclaiming the cross.
Those are the public, symbolic ways in which we
proclaim and participate in the cross. But there is no sense in
making such a public proclamation if your life doesn’t match up to
it. So as you partake of communion this morning, ask yourself this:
does my life show that I am taking up the cross daily? Is there any
evidence that I am bearing the burden for Christ? Am I really
carrying the cross? Your Lord died on the cross, so that you might
live, and live eternally. The least you can do is carry the cross
for the little while you are here.