FROM THE DEAN: Tuesday Eucharist Reflection by Fr Reginald Leeuw, 12 May 2020 : Simon of Cyrene
Fr Thomas in his reflections on the day of Saint Phillip the Deacon makes mention of Saint Simon of Cyrene as another African person who came into contact with the Lord. The name of Simon of Cyrene and his bearing of the Cross for Christ is mentioned by three Synoptic Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke. There is something dramatic about this man who suddenly walked, in one moment, from being unknown into an undying remembrance. Nobody had ever heard of him before, and most likely nobody ever would have heard of Simon of Cyrene. But one day he came along at just the right time and helped to carry the cross of Christ. Today more than nineteen centuries later, we all know his name. It is inscribed in many of our churches under the Fifth Station, and every time we pray the Stations of the Cross we repeat his name.
The synoptic Gospel makes a point that Saint Simon of Cyrene came into the life of our Lord at the Lord’s greatest hour of need. When Christ was very exhausted, he carried the cross or the crosspiece, the (patibulum, the horizontal part of the Cross)
Cyrene was a Greek city in what is now Libya in northern Africa. Either Simon had personally lived there, or his ancestors had. In any case, people knew him as Simon of Cyrene, although he may have been a Jew. Most likely, he now lived in Jerusalem, since at the time he was returning from the fields. He had probably been working there.
St. Mark mentions the names of the two Sons of Simon: Rufus and Alexander (Mark 15:21). In the course of time, these two became Christians, along with their mother and Simon himself. The New Testament makes mention of them. It is interesting to note that the mother was so beloved by St. Paul that he refers to her as his own mother: “Salute Rufus, elect in the Lord, and his mother and mine” (Rom. 16:13). Simon of Cyrene must have been a kind-hearted man. He had pity for the man he was being forced to help, he did not take up the Cross willingly. Not even St. John had thought of doing that or offering to do so. To carry the cross was a disgrace. The cross was for the lowest criminals, slaves and murderers. The one who carried it was the one who died on it in disgrace. Simon had to carry the hated object.
This extraordinary event of Simon and the Cross must have an important meaning for all of us.
We must all bear our crosses and we have to help Jesus bear His Cross.
Our own salvation and that of others depends on our participation in the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.
How can we do this?
- Spare a thought for those adversely affected by Covid-19, the poor and those in the margins of our economy who are unable to earn a living.
- Archbishop Thabo in his Covid-19 guidelines calls us to check on one another daily as a form of support to fellow Christians, especially the sickly and the elderly.
- Those of us who are able, to share food with others, for ‘Truly I tell you, the little you do of the least of these, you do it for the Lord.