“Tell us father, were you really there that day?
Did they make you take His burden the rest of the way?”
“Son, I stood in the crowd when I got my painful commission,
And they thrust it on me without asking my permission.
He was staggering and bloody and gripped by exhaustion
I was pressed into service, whether expediency or precaution.
The skull-shaped brow scowled back from a distance,
As I offered that Sufferer my lowly assistance
I was far from the lush valley that cradled my idyllic town
In the bustling, boisterous crowd full of heckles and frowns
Taking outside of Jerusalem this rough-hewn beam
Accompanied by His friends and more foes, what a curious team
Every step in the cacophony of the heckling hateful
When I got to the spot, I was wearily grateful
To cease my assignment and be through with this affront
But I stayed long enough to see men with a malice so blunt
Take the man I relieved and affix Him securely
To the implement I’d carried so slowly but surely
With frightening precision they attached Him with nails
To the cross which they lifted, oblivious to any wails
For the pain, sons, I know must have been unrelenting
As I watched this plain gentleman hang, with no champions dissenting.
No, the crowd with their clamors. bloodthirsty and wild
Made a contrast with this Man, His face loving and mild.
He hung for six hours, and during that ordeal,
Things happened that day, both incredible and surreal.
At the end, after the torture and the mockery were through,
He’d said, “Father, forgive these who know not what they do.”
Now He offered the Father Himself, His own spirit,
I wonder how many of the rabble there could hear it.”
Alexander and Rufus, the sons of this infamous servant
Had a father involved in a task he did, whether feckless or fervent.
We know him today, though we know not what became of the man.
Did it cause him to follow or, like Pilate, to wash his hands.
Was the Rufus of Romans Simon’s son, whom Paul adored?
Was Alexander the villain Paul scornfully deplored?
We won’t know on this earth just who all these men were,
Though we’d like a clear picture in place of the blur,
But we know on that morning, when we gained by Christ’s loss,
That this Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross.
Today we are called to assume a great load,
Not His cross, but ours, is the burden that’s bestowed.
The cross of self-denial, we must kill our self-rule
And be His, day by day, until our journey is through.