“And as they led [Jesus] away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.” Luke 23:26.
On an unusually beautiful Northwest winter morning, 20 men from our fraternity (Psalm 51:12 “Renew a Steadfast Spirit with ME) from St. Michael’s Catholic Parish in Olympia, WA, gathered for a social event. We wanted to meet outside our weekly fraternity meetings in a social environment but not lose sight of our Exodus 90 journey. We wanted this event to have meaning; therefore, we decided to conduct the Stations of the Cross. One of our fraternity brothers lives on a property with many available trees. So, we selected several trees to cut down to make three crosses. Working together, we cut, stripped, and bound the trees to create our crosses.
Mocked by the large crowds, Jesus carried the cross by himself, carrying the burden of our sins. The Romans selected Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross behind Jesus. Unlike Jesus or Simon of Cyrene, we did not carry the cross ourselves. We weren’t carrying the sins and suffering of all humanity. Still, in a symbolic gesture, we carried our sins and our brothers. We assisted each other, knowing and understanding that we were all sinners and were there to help with each other’s burdens—we willingly carried our crosses to each Station of the Cross. Filled with the Holy Spirit, we could feel the grace within us.
Unlike Jesus, we were not making our way along the Via Dolorosa, the “way of sorrow,” the stone street in the Old City of Jerusalem. Making our way along an improved trail, we moved slowly and solemnly—each man deep within his thoughts. We reflected on Jesus’ sacrifices for all of us. Like Jesus slowly making his way up to Golgotha, we moved from one station to the next. We slowly made our way up a hill and reached the top of the hill by the last station. We had made it to the top. Each man took turns carrying the cross and prayed at a Station of the Cross. Eventually, we made it to the top. On day 49, we find a renewed sense of purpose, and the journey is now more rewarding than burdensome.
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