Reflection on the Lectionary Readings for
April 14, 2019
Two very different responses to our Lord’s passion are highlighted during the Gospel reading from Luke today: the response of Simon of Cyrene and the response of Jesus’ acquaintances. Of Simon we are told, “They took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” Whether Simon entered willingly and compassionately into this service or whether he took up the Cross of Christ with a grudge, we don’t know. What we do know is this: Simon did his part faithfully. He stayed near to Christ, carrying the Cross until our Lord reached Golgotha, the site of His crucifixion. We also know that Simon’s family were among the first of the early Christians. Staying near to Christ, embracing the Cross (quite literally), transformed his life and the life of his family.
In contrast, near the end of this Gospel account we are told of another reaction to Jesus’ passion and death, namely that “all His acquaintances stood at a distance.” They knew Jesus! They had heard him preaching and teaching, witnessed His signs and miracles, maybe even benefited personally from them. Perhaps they did not participate in mocking Him or calling for His crucifixion. But they chose to stay a safe distance from Him when the going got tough. Unlike Simon, they refused to go too near to Christ.
Where will you place yourself this week? Keeping your distance from all the pain and suffering Christ endured? Or close by, staying near to Him like Simon did? It is when we go near to Christ that we can be transformed by Him. It is by embracing the crosses in our lives, stewarding them well rather than trying to run from them, that we become His true disciples.