Simon of Cyrene, Cross-Bearer
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Bridget of Kildare

As Jesus was carrying his cross out of Jerusalem to the place of execution, a man named Simon of Cyrene was coming in ( Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26), and the soldiers compelled him to carry the cross of Jesus. (The word angareuo (Greek gamma corresponds to English "ng" as in "finger"), here used for "compel," is a technical one, perhaps better translated "impress," and referring to the legal right of a soldier to require a provincial to carry his gear one mile for him. The word occurs in the New Testament only here and in Matthew 5:41.) Mark calls him "the father of Alexander and Rufus" without further explanation, apparently taking it for granted that his readers would all know who Rufus and Alexander are. The Christian writer Papias (died around 130) tells us that Mark originally wrote his Gospel for the Christian community in Rome. This suggests that Alexander and Rufus were well known to, and probably part of, the Christian congregation in Rome. Very possibly their father Simon had himself become a Christian, though this must remain conjecture.

written by James Kiefer


Heavenly Father, whose most dear Son, as He walked the way of the Cross, accepted the service of Simon of Cyrene to carry his physical burden for him: grant us each the grace gladly to bear one another's burdens, for the love of him who said, "As you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me," your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.