Fifth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross
According to Wikipedia, Cyrene is a Greek city in Libya, located in northern Africa. It’s more than likely that Simon of Cyrene was black or Greek. He could’ve been a Jew on pilgrimage or a Gentile travelling through. Whatever the case may be, Simon was put into a situation not of his own choosing, being asked to help carry the cross of a supposed criminal. We don’t know if Simon believed in Jesus or not, whether he was sympathetic or only carried the cross because the Romans ordered him to. But what matters is that he helped.
It’s kind of funny how often people come around during hard times. How often do we ask others to help us with our burdens? Some of us are reluctant to ask while others have no choice but to beg for help. This station is often prayed (at least in my parish) with the intention of an increase of vocations to priesthood and religious life. We can all place ourselves in Simon because whether we don’t really know Jesus or are sympathetic to His plight, we are asked to help him carry His cross.
Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Whenever I participated in a Passion Play (I have about 3 under my belt so far), I always got cast as Veronica. She’s a hard saint to research about because there is little, if any, historical evidence of her. She is often associated with the bleeding woman, the woman that Jesus healed on his way to Jairus’s daughter. If that is true, I think the fact that Veronica chose to wipe the bleeding face of Jesus after he healed her from twelve years of bleeding is nothing short of poetic.
It always interested me that during the stations of the cross, Veronica arrives to help just after Simon of Cyrene came to help carry the cross and before Jesus falls for the second time. On his way to the cross, two people come to Jesus’s aid. One was called to help while the other willingly volunteered. One carried the cross with Jesus while the other only helped for a fleeting moment. I know you’re probably asking “What use is Veronica when Jesus is bleeding all over and is going to inevitably die?” Well,Veronica made the choice to help because it was the right thing to do. It might come off as a bit existentialist, that Veronica chose to do something good in what seems to be a bleak situation just because she felt it was a good thing to do, and I don’t mind if you think towards that mindset. The point is that every little bit helps, even in “unwinnable” situations.