In a Lenten hymn we hear the words: Under the weight of the Cross Jesus welcomes the Cyrenean. These words allow us to discern a total change of perspective: the divine Condemned One is someone who, in a certain sense, makes a gift of his Cross.
Was it not he who said: He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me (Mt 10:38)?
Simon receives a gift.
He has become worthy of it.
What the crowd might see as an offence to his dignity has, from the perspective of redemption, given him a new dignity.
In a unique way, the Son of God has made him a sharer in his work of salvation.
Is Simon aware of this?
The evangelist Mark identifies Simon of Cyrene as the father of Alexander and Rufus (15:21).
If the sons of Simon of Cyrene were known to the first Christian community, it can be presumed that Simon too, while carrying the Cross, came to believe in Christ. From being forced, he freely accepted, as though deeply touched by the words: Whoever does not carry his cross with me is not worthy of me.
By his carrying of the Cross, Simon was brought to the knowledge of the gospel of the Cross.
Since then, this gospel has spoken to many, countless Cyreneans, called in the course of history to carry the cross with Jesus.
O Christ, you gave to Simon of Cyrene
the dignity of carrying your Cross.
Welcome us too under its weight,
welcome all men and women
and grant to everyone the gift of readiness to serve.
Do not permit that we should turn away from those
who are crushed by the cross of illness
loneliness, hunger or injustice.
As we carry each others burdens,
help us to become witnesses to the gospel of the Cross
and witnesses to you,
who live and reign for ever and ever.
Our Father . . .
Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christs dear Mother to behold?