Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Fifth Station~Simon Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross~Help

Someone, then, must be forced [to help Jesus]. The soldiers seize upon Simon of Cyrene. It has, or he thinks it has, nothing to do with him. He was simply about his own business in Jerusalem. It seems to him mere chance that he met this tragic procession--an unlucky chance for him, but there it is! He is made to take up the load and help this man, a stranger to him, and whom he supposes to be a criminal on the way to his execution.

Really there is no chance in the incident. It is something planned by God from eternity to show men the way of Christ's love: "I am the way, the truth, and the life." It means that no one is meant to suffer alone. No one is meant to carry his own cross without some other human being to help him.

Again Christ is proving to the world that He has come to live the life of all ordinary men on the simplest human terms. Now as He accepts the reluctant help of Simon--accepts it because He perforce must, and yet in His humility gratefully--He is showing each one of us whom He will indwell, what he asks of us and what He wants us to give to one another.

Carryl Houselander, The Way of Cross

For the past five years or so, this has been my favorite station. I can so easily see myself in that person who carries that cross with the greatest reluctance, usually only when I'm forced to carry it. But somehow even that grudging acceptance seems to enough, and along the way I'm changed, and grow a bit in faith. I've learned enough to know that the cross should be embraced with joy, but I haven't yet gotten to the point where I can do that very often.

The second paragraph above, however, is not something that I've thought much about. I can see myself as the person who has to help, but not as the person who needs to ask for help. I really do not like to ask people for help. I will ask my husband, or maybe one of my children, but aside from that, I rarely seek anyone's assistance. I'm not even entirely sure why this is so. I don't want to be a bother; I think I can do it better myself; I'm afraid they might turn me down; I don't want to be perceived as weak (this, especially at work). I guess all of those could be reasons. Caryll Houselander says further on in this meditation that, "A man who claims to be self-sufficient and not to need any other man's help in hardship and suffering has no part in Christ." This is a really frightening statement. Jesus made himself weak and vulnerable to show me how to admit my own weakness.

Another thing that has never really struck me before is that Jesus, Lord of all there is, is willing to accept reluctant help. We, his creatures, offer ourselves in such a stingy manner, and he accepts our offering as though it were a treasure. I can remember that once when I was a young mother, I asked someone for a favor, and the person did what I asked, but she let me know by her manner that she was not very happy about it. I promised myself that I would never ask her for anything again, and I didn't. I can see now how prideful that was. Still, I'm fairly sure that I could only accept this with the greatest difficulty even now.

The pride which claims to be independent of human sympathy and practical help from others is unchristian. We are here to help one another. We are here to help Christ in one another. CH


1 comment:

  1. I daresay a great many of us have that reluctance to ask for help. It's ok up to a point but wherever that point is, after that it's pride.

    I wrote something about Simon of Cyrene many years ago that I thought was pretty good, or at least meant something to me at the time, but I think it's lost now. I've always really liked him for some reason, though.