Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Simon the Cyrenean

A reflection.
Not too far from my house is a small commercial area home to a large garden center, nearby is an old motel that has been converted into a halfway house for addicts and people with mental illness.  It is very discreet and no one would know this unless they lived nearby.  Over the years I have seen many residents walk by my house on their way to another commercial area where there is a grocery store and a restaurant or two.
As most of my friends know, I love crazy people, people with Down Syndrome and all sorts of eccentrics.  Whenever I am outside working in the yard or something, I always try to greet these folks whenever they go by the house - although I wasn't quite so friendly when I first moved here.  Most of the folks I greet usually never respond, although sometimes they have yelled things like "F-off" - if they said anything at all.  The chemically dependent seem to be the exception - they will ask for money, a cigarette, or a can of pop in the summer. 
Anyway, this morning as I woke up, the first thought into my mind was "they laid hold of one Simon the Cyrenean who was coming in from the fields."  I like to think my angel whispers these things to me, sometimes to form my prayer for the day.  As I went to the kitchen to plug in the coffee, I looked out the window just as one of the residents from the halfway house was walking by.
His head was shaved and he was dressed all in black with studs in his ears and on his jeans; he walked aggressively, hunched forward, bobbing back and forth as if he wanted to appear threatening.  At the risk of sounding like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, giving the details of what he is thinking, the following was my thought process after watching the man walk by the house:
  • Now he reminds me of Simon of Cyrene, I thought.  Simon must have been a day laborer.  Perhaps he was some sort of an outcast himself - most likely he accounted for nothing.  Coming in from the fields - tired - he must have resented being forced to do even more - until he realized whose cross he was carrying... sharing.  I hope this guy recognizes Jesus and is healed - saved.  Saved is better I thought - sometimes, some people wouldn't know how to live if they are healed. 
  • I then noted that he walked like I did when I was in grade school, so other kids would think I was tough - it worked.  Perhaps that tough facade is his defense while in treatment - especially in a halfway house.
  • I couldn't help but think that if I lived in Kenwood (a classy neighborhood in MPLS) neighbors would probably call the police to report the guy as a suspicious person stalking their luxury homes.
  • I suspected that he must be new to the halfway house because I had never noticed him before today. 
Then I went in to another room to pray, and I pondered, "they laid hold of one Simon the Cyrenean who was coming in from the fields."
I don't know what it would be like either - if I was healed, I mean.
"In the face of all my foes
I am a reproach,
an object of scorn to my neighbors
and of fear to my friends."


  1. "they laid hold of one Simon the Cyrenean who was coming in from the fields."...

    When you Guardian Angel lays hands on you and takes you to your window to see a suffering soul walk by, at least say the three Hail Marys for that soul.

    Do not forget there are people in every city in America that meet against God and His Christ.

    They war against souls and those souls affected ‘act’ crazy. Those poor souls create their own world in defense against those unknown (to them) enemies of their souls.

    Those enemies do have a name: Freemasons.

    Not everybody that 'acts' crazy has a mental problem.

    Diabolical disorientation is more widespread than any disease.

    When you sit before the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in Church, expect God to send you a few chores to do, like praying for poor souls.

    The story of Daniel relates how an Angel picked a guy up by his hair to go feed Daniel.

    When we take account a persons worth, we overlook that persons soul.

    Sometimes I get disappointed when I attend Mass while traveling, and people always seem to look me up and down, taking account of my clothes rather than my soul.


  2. me neither, terry.

    in prayer this morning, however, i was able to reaffirm my belief that i was created out of love and that God does love me. (that's big, btw). i continued praying for the grace to respond in kind, to live my life with gratitude, and to see myself and others as God sees us. and loves us.

    the beat goes on ...

  3. Anonymous6:18 PM

    Interestingly enough, I watched the Passion of the Christ last night, and that scene with Simon of Cyrene stuck with me more than usual. At the beginning, Simon has to be almost forced to take up the cross- after the procession reaches Calvary, he doesn't want to leave - he has to be almost kicked out of there - something the Romans are only too happy to oblige! It's the same way for a lot of people, I think - we are "turned off" by the physical appearance of someone who needs help, as Christ did - but when we allow ourselves to be guided by "the better angels of our nature", something happens to us and we find as Simon did that we have done something good. In his case, it was assisting in the salvation of the world - but in our own lives, we trust to God that any kindness we can do for others has a similar resonance.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Patricia Gonzalez

  4. What I love about that scene in The Passion is that Simon seems to console Christ and tells him, "We're almost there." As if to encourage him to persevere. It suggests to me Simon was enlightened as to what Christ was actually doing.

  5. The scene with Simon the Cyrenean in Mel Gibson's movie for me is among the most moving.

  6. Terry: What a great post. I figure being crazy gets us in the front door of heaven faster, don't you think?

    Anonymous: I am embarrassed to say that I did not know that Simon was made to help Jesus carry His Cross. This from my man Fr. Hardon SJ--

    Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross

    V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
    R. Because by Thy holy cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

    Priest: This by the way is the correct title of the Station. That Simon helped Jesus to carry the cross. This is clear from the statement in John's Gospel, quote "bearing His own cross, He went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew, Golgotha. Simon for a while helped, and helped Jesus UNDER DURESS, but Christ carried the cross Himself. The first three evangelists all mention that a certain Simon from Cyrene was FORCED BY THE ROMAN SOLDIERS to help Christ carry the cross after Jesus. The significance of Simon the Cyrenean cannot be exaggerated, ***he symbolizes our role in the redemption***. Christ won the graces we need by His death on Calvary, but we must cooperate with these graces in order to merit or earn our salvation. Even the fact that Simon was ordered to help Jesus is important. Cooperating with the divine grace can be naturally unpleasant. We may not like to do what we know God wants us to do, so what? The important thing is that our wills choose to do what God wants".

    This is why I love Fr. Hardon so much. He can teach an idiot like me. How many have illnesses, misfortune, tragic family situations that are, let's face it, not what we want, thing over which we have no control, but if we embrace these things (Hardon makes this point all the time) we serve our own redemption and the redemption of others. Not enough to accept the Cross, we have to embrace it. Hard, very, very hard to do...


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.