Tuesday, 19 February 2008

The Fifth Station, Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross.

In most and arguably all of Shakespeare's plays, there is a person or persons who represent Humanity. People who, in the midst of great comedy or great tragedy, or in the sight of world defining history, act as we would like to think we would act ourselves, sometimes at great personal cost to themselves. They are not always noticeable as such at the time, in the grip of the drama, but they are there in the re-reading. The modern playwright Tom Stoppard makes good use of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet in his play of the same name and noticeably in the madness and the gore of King Lear, as the King is going insane and his family are in a whirlwind of hate and jealousy, Lear's faithful retainer Gloucester has his eyes put out for his allegiance, to much screaming. Two servants come forward after the act, as the stage clears, to wipe and bandage him up, then to reflect on what is becoming of their lives. These men are inserted into the tragedy to relieve us, momentarily, from horror, before Gloucester is left to 'smell his way to Dover' and Lear is set to wander the barren heath with his fool, the better, in the wilderness of madness, to know himself before Cordelia gives him the means of Grace and repentance in her dead body, as he holds her corpse and looks to Heaven, to see her face amongst the elect 'look there, look there...'.
You see where this is going, I presume? That King Lear is a tale of a King, exiled by his own people, sent to his death in the wilderness, where he discovers his own true nature before he dies for the sins of his family whilst having a moment of Grace. I hope it sounds familiar and I hope you are recognising Simon of Cyrene as the representative of Humanity. He was real as you and I are, of course, but figuratively, he represents ourselves, he shouldered the burden of the Lord, knowing his time had come and being unafraid to answer that call and by his courage, the Lamb of God was helped another few hundred metres on the way to his death and our redemption. Simon helps us to realise that we know not the day nor the hour on which the Lord will come calling and also the great importance of recognising that time when it comes, not to loose it amongst what may be the more dramatic lives of others and the world around us. This takes self awareness and alertness, two gifts we do well to cultivate, through the grace of God.
V. It behoveth us to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. In whom is our salvation, life and resurrection.
Let us pray.
We beseech thee O Lord, to graciously recieve our prayers: and in thy mercy make us ever to turn our rebel wills towards thee; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Of your charity, pray for the soul of Clifford Finch.