Friday 3rd April – 5th Station – Simon of Cyrene helps carry Jesus’ Cross Unison Sieger Koeder
St Mark 15: 21
They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.
He was a countryman, not a city dweller, who had come to celebrate the Passover and, probably bemused, joined the spectators watching the condemned criminals being forced to carry the cross-pieces from which they would hang in crucifixion. What was Simon thinking when, with no warning, he was dragged from the crowd and made to carry that heavy burden? Mark names Simon and names his sons which leads us to think that they would have been known to Mark’s first readers, presumably as members of the early Christian church community. May we assume that watching Jesus as he went to his death had such an effect on Simon that he linked up with the followers of Jesus? If so, what can we all learn about the effect that meeting Jesus, our living Lord, can still have, what effect the lives and example of Christians, including us, can also have on others? Simon did not volunteer to “take up the cross and follow Jesus” (Mark 4. 34) but was forced to do so, he had no choice. Together with other groups the UK’s Churches’ Investors’ Group has done much vital work to highlight the fate of those compelled, tricked or coerced into modern slavery: young people, often from Asia or Africa and deceived by false promises, who find themselves tricked and coerced to work in slave-like factories in their own countries or nail bars, car-washes, cannabis farms, brothels and such like in the UK and other western countries. Are we sure that none of our expenditure reinforces this exploitation and degradation? We may all like bargain prices, but who pays the real cost, or don’t we want to know? Simon, Alexander and Rufus are part of our history: what do we know about those who are part of our contemporary world?
Gracious God, we thank you and honour those who have accepted the call to take up their cross and follow Jesus without knowing all that this would involve. We also give thanks for those who commit themselves to the liberation of all who are forced into modern slavery, praying that captives may be freed and justice prevail through the power of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: Amen.
The Rev’d Julian Macro, Retired Minister, member Verwood United Reformed Church
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