Mark 15:21 NRSV
“And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.”
What a way to meet Jesus! Simon was on his way to somewhere. His destination set, only to be forcibly interrupted and required to carry a heavy load, the cross bar for an execution at Golgotha. He was minding his own business when life interjected and disrupted his plans. He was given no choice; he had to go a different way.
The word that jumps out at me from this passage is “passer-by.” How often I seem to encompass this role. I enjoy watching the flowers grow, the birds sing, the days strolling on. There isn’t necessarily a goal or a target. My mind is set on what I am doing and not paying attention to what is around me when all of a sudden I am drawn into another’s life. Right next to me something significant is taking place and I am drawn into it.
Someone who I did not know yesterday – suddenly I am involved in their life. I remember the phenomenon surrounding the Arizona Capitol in February 2014 as people felt compelled to voice their objection to Bill 1062 which used the guise of religion to deny certain people (in the homosexual community) their rights. All of a sudden, regular people passing by were becoming involved. People who might not normally get involved felt compelled to stand against this act of bigotry and discrimination. I heard more than one person paraphrasing the quote of World War II from Pastor Martin Niemoller: “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” People were awakened and felt compelled to speak out about the actions of the Arizona legislature.
Whether we feel compelled by circumstances or by our own inner voices in response to the circumstances, life interrupts us from time to time. It always presents an opportunity to meet Christ, to participate in carrying the load that bears humankind down. In going to the cross, Jesus showed us that some things are worth sacrificing for. Even as we are passing by, we are called to become followers of Jesus.
Prayer: God, may I wake up to your call on my life. Teach me to follow you. Amen.