There are always two things that strike me about the story of Simon of Cyrene as told in the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. First, Simon of Cyrene was merely a passerby trying to mind his own business when he was seized by Jesus’ executioners and forced to carry the cross for him. Simon, who didn’t know Jesus and who was just passing through, did not volunteer for this grueling and possibly dangerous job.
The second thing that strikes me is that, despite the fact that Simon didn’t know Jesus and wasn’t volunteering to help him out, Simon is still named and remembered in the narratives. We learn his name, we learn where he’s from, we learn he’s a father, we learn the names of his sons, we learn he was traveling into Jerusalem from the countryside when he was seized. Now, if the gospel writers named everybody who Jesus interacted with and spoke with, this maybe wouldn’t be that surprising. But they don’t, and they rarely provide the kind of details they provide about Simon.
It’s like the Gospels writers are saying, “It doesn’t matter to us that you didn’t volunteer. When the one we love, who gave so much help to others, was finally in need of help himself, you were there. It doesn’t matter to us that you didn’t want to do it or that you didn’t know who you were doing it for, you were there. And we will never forget that.”
This photograph was taken during a large right-wing protest in London on June 13, 2020 by Dylan Martinez for Reuters. We see Patrick Hutchinson, a Black Lives Matter protester, carrying Bryn Male, a right-wing protester, to safety after Male was attacked and beaten by an angry mob.
When asked why he and his friends were in London that day Patrick Hutchinson said, “We knew how aggressive it could be. We knew we had to be there to protect vulnerable Black Lives Matter protesters and to protect our black boys from harm.” Mr. Hutchinson had no intention of protecting someone like Bryn Male. The possibility wasn’t on his mind at all. But when the moment came, Patrick Hutchinson saved Bryn Male’s life. And no one who was there that day or who has seen this picture will ever forget it.
Let us pray:
God, grant us the strength to do the right thing that we do not yet know we will be compelled to do. Amen.
Jesus the Imagination
Thoughts and dreams, musings and meditations