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SATURDAY — April 4, 2020

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Blessed Palm can be found at the entrance to church
You may take enough for the whole family
and your Palm Sunday prayer at home.

The Fifth Station
Simon of Cyrene Forcibly Enlisted to Help Carry the Cross

Of the many people witnessing the process of Jesus’ crucifixion the scriptures single out Simon from northern Africa. He was not a local but one of God’s people from afar to share in the Mystery of Salvation, fulfilling the prophecy of old.

Matthew 27:27-32
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus with them into the Praetorium and collected the whole cohort round him.

28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet cloak round him,
29 and having twisted some thorns into a crown they put this on his head and placed a reed in his right hand. To make fun of him they knelt to him saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’
30 And they spat on him and took the reed and struck him on the head with it.
31 And when they had finished making fun of him, they took off the cloak and dressed him in his own clothes and led him away to crucifixion.
32 On their way out, they came across a man from Cyrene, called Simon, and enlisted him to carry his cross.

Ezekiel 37:21-28
21 “The Lord Yahweh says this: I shall take the Israelites from the nations where they have gone. I shall gather them together from everywhere and bring them home to their own soil.
22 I shall make them into one nation in the country, on the mountains of Israel, and one king is to be king of them all; they will no longer form two nations, nor be two separate kingdoms.
23 They will no longer defile themselves with their foul idols, their horrors and any of their crimes. I shall save them from the acts of infidelity which they have committed and shall cleanse them; they will be my people and I shall be their God.
24 My servant David will reign over them, one shepherd for all; they will follow my judgements, respect my laws and practise them.
25 They will live in the country which I gave to my servant Jacob, the country in which your ancestors lived. They will live in it, they, their children, their children’s children, for ever. David my servant is to be their prince for ever.
26 I shall make a covenant of peace with them, an eternal covenant with them. I shall resettle them and make them grow; I shall set my sanctuary among them for ever.
27 I shall make my home above them; I shall be their God, and they will be my people.
28 And the nations will know that I am Yahweh the sanctifier of Israel, when my sanctuary is with them for ever.”

The Roman soldiers did not ask Simon his name when they grabbed him to help with the cross of Jesus, but the Gospel writers did know him and knew him by name. There is more to the story then, following the crucifixion. Saint Mark even tells us Simon was the father of Rufus and Alexander (Mark 15:21). Simon’s carrying the cross changed his life. We believe that he was in Jerusalem at the time to celebrate the Jewish Passover. But he came a distance to do so as did many others. He was not a resident of Jerusalem but gathered with God’s people as the prophet Ezekiel spoke centuries before. In that prophecy God’s chosen king of the house of David would reign as the sovereign of God’s people. Walking behind Jesus Simon was following the King who was to establish an eternal covenant between God and his people. From the events which followed Jesus’ crucifixion we know that Simon entered into that covenant/communion and evidently lived it for all his years. This was due to the love and providence of God. Our obeying Christ to carry the cross and follow him will do the same for us. These days have brought unexpected realities into our lives. We are being called to “follow” the Word and all the word of God dealing with the passion, death and resurrection of Christ the King.

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you;
for by your cross and resurrection you have redeemed the world.

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