This is the third in the series of reflections on the stations of the cross.
I began to wonder about the wide-range of emotion among those who experienced the stations of the cross first-hand. I wrote this version of the Stations of the Cross to reflect these conflicting feelings. It was originally set as a play and is out of my own imagination. It is not meant to be historically accurate. It is meant to put us into the events of that day, for Jesus’ Passion is our story, too.
Each day through Good Friday I will post another “eye-witness” account. As you read, put yourself in the story and compare your own reactions, motivations, hopes and fears with the character’s. I invite you to reflect with me:
SIMON OF CYRENE
These children of mine are antsy today. I don’t know if it is the anticipation of the Passover celebration or because we made the trek to Jerusalem from Cyrene. The city is always busier than our home. But today it seems even more is going on. It is strange, like there is heaviness in the air.
After stopping in a shop, we stepped out into the street only to be met by an angry swarm of people and to avoid being separated from my children we followed the crowd. That’s when I saw the soldiers and a man—or what was left of a man—carrying a cross. What a pathetic sight. The poor wretch looks to be barely breathing!
I asked the woman next to me who this criminal was. “Jesus of Nazareth” she said and began to sob. “Jesus?” I said out loud. This surely could not be Jesus! He was a prophet, a holy man! Certainly this woman must have meant some other Jesus.
I must have said the name of Jesus too loudly because I garnered the attention of the centurion in charge. He yelled at me, “YOU! Get over here! This man cannot carry his cross any longer. You will carry it with Him!”
I was dumbfounded. Didn’t he see that I had small children with me? I am a stranger, I don’t even live in Jerusalem. Why pick me? Why should I be dragged into this?
That’s when the woman next to me said, “Help Him! I will take care of your children.” I didn’t know what to do. I was so scared. What if they decided to crucify me when we got to Golgotha?
The soldier’s spear made the decision for me and I went to Jesus and shouldered the weight of the cross for Him.
It was hot that day. The walk to the well took me longer than normal and I was sweating. I heard voices in the next street over shouting and wondered what was going on.
I was about to wipe my face with my veil when the horse and centurion turned down the alley. I was so startled that I jumped behind the well in the middle of the square. The people began to line the street’s edges as soldiers kept them at bay. They must not have seen me as their backs were to me.
First came by two criminals followed by soldiers with whips driving them onward. Then there came a man carrying a cross with another man barely hanging on the other side. He looked exhausted.
“Oh Jesus!” came the cries. Jesus? I thought. Then I saw His face and I brought a hand to my mouth. He was covered in blood, sweat, and dirt. How could anyone do something like to another person?
I must have been out of my mind because I stepped out from behind my hiding place and stepped in front of Jesus. I looked into His eyes and was met with something I did not expect to find—love. There was fatigue, for sure. But there was no hatred or judgement, only love.
I did the only thing that I could. I offered my veil to Him to wipe His face.
That’s when the soldier saw me. He snatched the cloth from Jesus face and hands and threw it on the ground shouting, “Get out of here or I’ll find a punishment for you, too!”
I was so scared that I grabbed the veil from the ground and ran away, not even looking back.