As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’
Imagine Simon on the street that day. He is not a man who enjoys other people’s pain, so he tries to avoid the procession of the cross, and looks for side streets by which he can go a different way. But the procession always seems to find him, the streets twist and turn, he finds himself, each time, in the middle of the crowd. And he grows angry at God. Why does God want him to look at pain?
Is God forcing him to look through divine eyes, eyes that cannot look away? No where does it say that he’s willing. Is it accident that he’s the one to carry the cross? Or is he a stand in for all of us?
If we wish to be God’s body in the world, we must try to look through God’s eyes. If we would agree to see through these eyes, we would understand the fragility of each person, each thing. With God’s hands, we can act. We can use them to bless and absolve within the sacrament of each moment. We can ease suffering and share joy.
But God’s body also felt the world’s pain, and we must agree, not only to see, but to bear that pain on behalf of the world. And on our own behalf. Can we accept the cross, even when it’s placed on us without our consent? Can we accept the heaviness of love?