I remember that day.
Father Dave: I struggle with this Friday we call Good. What would I have done if I had been present that day on the road to Calvary? Do I know for sure? So again, I relinquish today’s reflection to another.
I remember that day. My name is Simon and I with my two sons, Alexander and Rufus have just arrived in Jerusalem. There was a large crowd coming up the hill following a man dragging a large cross; he looked more dead than alive. Cuts and bruises covered his body; someone had slammed a wreath of thorns on his head, and now they were forcing him to drag this burden. I just wanted to get away. I did not want my sons to see this spectacle. How could people be so cruel to treat a human life in such a callous and horrible manner?
Before I could move away one of the soldiers seized me. He forced me into carrying part of the cross, and my boys could only watch. I was from Cyrene and this brusque and harsh treatment was not new to me. I snuck a peek of this man, and through the blood and sweat there was a look about him. He glanced back and thanked me.
We continued up the hill, this stranger and I. Never had I witnessed such anger and hostility from a crowd of people. What could he have done to warrant such treatment? Then we came upon a group of women wailing in grief. What was happening here, a vicious mob, out for more blood, and a small group of women crying in agony over the treatment this man was receiving… Where are my boys? Are they okay?
We reached the top of this hill called Calvary, and finally we were able to set down the heavy cross. I looked at this man, and all I could say was, “I am sorry,” as I was shoved out of the way by the soldiers. Again he gave a look of gratitude amidst all this horror. I had to get away, but where were Rufus and Alexander?
“Dad, dad!” my boys were running to me, frightened, terrified of what they were witnessing. They thought I was going to be crucified; I had to get them away from this scene! They would not understand; I did not understand. Holding tight to them I pushed through the crowd; it was more silent now. I could hear the hammer blows, driving nails through His hands and feet. Don’t let the boys see it. Then all was quiet. I could hear an occasional taunt, but no response.
We made it to an opening in the crowd, and there stood a Roman centurion. My eyes caught his and he looked at me, not as a slave or a foreigner, but as a person. A cry went up behind us, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,” and then all was silent. The Centurion, who had sworn allegiance to Caesar spoke: “Truly, He was the Son of God.” We left the hillside, just wanting to get away, no longer interested in the festival we had come to celebrate in Jerusalem.
That is my story of how I met Jesus the Nazorean, or as I have come to believe, The Christ. For we were there in Jerusalem, Alexander, Rufus and I the day the Holy Spirit came upon the crowd. We are even mentioned in one of the writings from that time. My boys are grown now. They, too, are different because of that day, but they continue to speak the Good News about that Friday that is called Good.