Fifth Station of the Cross
Simon of Cyrene helps to carry the cross
There are a series of pictures representing certain aspects in the Passion of Christ, and each one corresponds to a particular incident.
This series is known as The Way of the Cross and this page introduces the Fifth Station.
Simon of Cyrene helps carry the cross
The Fifth Station is marked by an inscription on the door-post of a small Franciscan chapel at the corner of Tyropeon Valley and Market Road. Here, we remember how Simon the Cyrenian was given Jesus' heavy cross to drag up to Golgotha. (Matt. 27:32, Mark 15:21, Luke 23:26)
Even though at this stage Jesus' suffering had not peaked, it was more than any normal man could have borne. He must have been staggering under the weight and pain. It was clear to the soldiers that Jesus was not going to make it and they feared his physical strength was just not enough. Crucifying an unconscious man? It just isn't the same fun if the victim is not howling in agony.
Simon must have thought he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Most of the crowd were probably women, since the menfolk were preparing the other lambs for slaughter at this time. Simon must have been the obvious choice for the soldiers. We don't know whether it was his fear of the soldiers or sympathy for the Man he saw bleeding from the beating and the crown of thorns, but Simon immediately obeyed and took the weight of the crossbeam on his shoulders for a while.
What did Jesus and Simon feel for each other as their eyes met? Interestingly, Jesus had earlier said: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). We need not fear the yoke, for it is lined with love.
How eager, or how reluctant, are we to step forward when somebody needs help, to give our time or other resources at a cost to ourselves. And if we do step forward, what are our motives? Fear? A sense of duty or responsibility? Or love? We are not being self-righteous if we give through love.
And it doesn't take much logic to work out that if we give love, the love of the other person increases.