The Clinging of Calvary

During Holy Week, an annual discipline that I both love and dread is to watch The Passion of the Christ.  The two hours in front of the screen are grueling; but each year, without fail,  this interpretation of Jesus' last 24 hours affects me deeply as I hear and see things that I had not noticed in previous viewings.

This year, if I had to choose one scene that affected me most, it would be when Simon of Cyrene hesitantly helps Jesus carry the cross. As Jesus' strength fails him, he falls, pulling Simon and the cross down with him. Simon manages to stand back up. Jesus takes ahold of Simon, clings to him, and pulls himself back up with Simon's help.  At one point, Jesus has his arms wrapped around Simon as if he were embracing him. As he stands back up, Simon whispers to him, "We're almost there," strengthening Jesus not just with his muscles but with his words. When they reach Calvary, there's a beautiful moment when Simon and Jesus simply look at each other. From the look in Simon's eyes, we see that Simon recognizes the man who embraced him. The "criminal" from Nazareth whom he helps to stand is the "Messiah" from heaven who raises Simon to stand with him in eternity.

My friends, before we rush to the joy and celebration of Sunday, take time to be Simon. Cling to the story of Jesus' passion, and invite Jesus to cling to you. Draw strength from each other. Most of all, take time to read the story of the passion, and really look into the eyes of the one who fell so that we might rise again with him.