Ἰδοὺ! Kαινὰ ποιῶ πάντα!
!הִנְנִי! עֹשֶׂה הַכֹּל חָדָשׁ
Ecce! Nova facio omnia!
Behold! I make all things new!
Please God, more Scriptural and Patristic sources will be added to the present “rant style” meditations when circumstances at Holy Souls Hermitage aren’t quite so utterly barbaric.
The purpose of this first run through these mysteries is to note especially the goodness and kindness of Jesus amidst the violence and chaos back in the day… and today. Hang on, it might be a bit of a rough ride, as rough and tumble as we focus on, in this post, Jesus carrying His Cross. Let’s take a look at Mark 15,20-23 from the old NAB:
Mark 15,20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him out to crucify him. 21 They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 They brought him to the place of Golgotha (which is translated Place of the Skull). 23 They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it.
Just to say, purple was the color of royalty, for only they could afford this color, made from the dye of a particular kind of murex off the coast of Tyre, up North. The Phoenicians were famous for this. The only reason that the mockery of putting a roal cloak on Jesus works is because He Himself did not wear such a thing. Instead, they changed Him back to His own clothes before making Him carry the Cross.
If one is in solidarity with Jesus, one might think of the wounds bleeding from the scourging. Within just a minute or two, those wounds would be congealed to whatever garment was put on Him, and would be ripped open entirely when the garment would be removed, or, in this case, pretty ferociously torn away from the wounds. They would have to do this again when they stripped Him yet again to be crucified. It was surely like being scourged again and again.
Since Father Gordon MacRae has done such a magnificent commentary on Simon the Cyrenian at TheseStoneWalls, HERE (where you’ll find other likes to previous articles he’s written on Simon), I encourage you to go there and read those articles (and become acquainted with Father Gordon, a kind of modern Simon, and much more, if you don’t already know him).
Father Gordon makes an interesting point about why Simon was pressed into service, whether it was to make sure Jesus made it to the crucifixion (a worry for the soldiers) or to continue to mock Jesus as King of the Jews, forcing slavery upon a passerby to this end (a passtime for the soldiers).
Anyway, I would just add here that when we are in solidarity with Jesus, as Simon eventually was, we are no longer analogous to just Simon or just the good thief (readBenjamin,a novel by the great Father John O’Neill, pastor of Saint John Vianney Parish in Doonside, Australia), or any of those who stood under the cross. Instead, all of those and then us as well become the members of the very Body of Christ, so that we find ourselves being crucified to the world in Him, who is our salvation.
I have much to say about the place of the skull, but we’ll leave that for the 5th sorrowful mystery. I’ll just add this one point here, that the place was called The Skull since that a small mount of rubbishy rock left in the quarry had the appearance of a skull. Tradition also has it that Adam’s skull was buried there. Yikes! Old crucifixes often sport a skull and crossbones below the feet of Jesus, this also being a reference to Adam and the death that Jesus freely took on to have the right to raise us to life with Himself.
The bit about wine drugged with myrrh refers to a pain relieving drug that the Romans gave to those who were being crucified. Jesus’ refusal of this kindness speaks much about His eagerness to stay the course on our behalf.
Speaking of staying on course, let’s bring in a few verses from Luke’s Gospel on the women of Jerusalem which Jesus meets on His Way of the Cross:
Luke 23,27 A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. 28 Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, 29 for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ 31 for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?” [NAB]
As I’ve written elsewhere, if their tears were about repentance for sins, for how much harm they caused Jesus by their sins and are sorry for this out of love for Him, well, that would be great. But this is not what they are up to. They are merely lamenting a change in the status quo of the way things were, thinking it was better to have Jesus around for themselves than not. Not good. Can that be redirected? Only if we get over lamenting catastrophic persecution and grow up, not “feeling sorry” for Jesus or ourselves, but rather being in solidarity with His great work of redemption and salvation, which requires… what?… if not enthusiasm, joy and a good sense of humor? Sorrow, in the sense of grief, which comes from love, also admits of putting oneself forward with all solidarity in all enthusiasm, joy and a good sense of humor. The humor comes with the irony of our Lord having the likes of us for His friends.
Lastly, perhaps during the ten Hail Marys of this decade of the rosary, you might want to watch this tour of the Stations of the Cross on Mount Carmel which I filmed back in the Spring of 2009. These are very sorrowful stations, as you will see. The chant, being sung just then in the cave of Elijah, is a magnificent musical backdrop: