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Mar 12, 2024 258 Mishael Devassy
Encounter

Heaven is not Far Away

Are you quick to judge others? Are you hesitant to help someone in need? Then, it’s time to reflect!

It was just another day for me. Returning from the market, weary from the day’s labor, collecting Roofus from the Synagogue school…

However, something felt different that day. The wind was whispering in my ear, and even the sky was more expressive than usual. Commotion from a crowd in the streets confirmed for me that today, something was going to change.

Then, I saw Him—His body so disfigured that I turned Roofus away from this fearful sight. The poor boy gripped my arm with all his might—he was terrified.

The way this man, well, what was left of Him, was being handled must mean he had done something terrible.

I could not bear to stand and watch, but as I began to leave, I was seized by a Roman soldier. To my horror, they commanded me to help this man to bear His heavy load. I knew this meant trouble. Despite resisting, they asked me to help Him.

What a mess! I did not want to associate with a sinner. How humiliating! To carry a cross whilst all of them watched?

I knew there was no escape, though, so I asked my neighbor Vanessa to take Roofus home because this trial would take a while.

I walked over to Him—filthy, bloody, and disfigured.  I wondered what he had done to deserve this. Whatever be it, this punishment was way too cruel.

The bystanders were yelling out ‘blasphemer,’ ‘liar,’ and ‘King of the Jews,’ whilst others were spitting at him and abusing him.

I had never been so humiliated and mentally tortured like this before. After taking only about ten to fifteen steps with him, he fell to the ground, face first. For this trial to end, he needed to get up, so I bent over to help him up.

Then, in his eyes, I saw something that changed me. I saw compassion and love? How could this be?

No fear, no anger, no hatred—just love and sympathy. I was taken aback, whilst with those eyes, He looked at me and held my hand to get back up. I could no longer hear or see the people around me. As I held the Cross on my one shoulder and Him on my other, I could only keep looking at Him. I saw the blood, the wounds, the spit, the dirt, everything that could no longer hide the divinity of His face. Now I heard only the beating of His heart and His labored breathing…He was struggling, yet so very, very strong.
Amid all the noise of the people screaming, abusing, and scurrying about, I felt as though He was speaking to me. Everything else I had done till that point, good or bad, seemed pointless.

When the Roman soldiers pulled Him from me to drag Him to the place of crucifixion, they shoved me aside, and I fell to the ground. He had to continue on His own. I lay there on the ground as people trampled over me. I did not know what to do next. All I knew was that Iife was never going to be the same again.

I could no longer hear the crowd but only the silence and the sound of my heart beating. I was reminded of the sound of His tender heart.

A few hours later, as I was about to get up to leave, the expressive sky from earlier began to speak. The ground beneath me shook! I looked ahead at the top of Calvary and saw Him, arms stretched and head bowed, for me.
I know now that the blood splattered on my garment that day belonged to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. He cleansed me with His blood.

*** *** ***

This is how I imagine Simon of Cyrene recalling his experience of the day he was asked to help Jesus carry the Cross to Calvary. He had probably heard very little of Jesus till that day, but I am very sure that he was not the same person after he helped the Savior carry that Cross.

This Lenten season, Simon asks us to look into ourselves:

Have we been too quick to judge people?

Sometimes, we are too quick to believe what our instincts tell us about somebody. Just like Simon, we may let our judgments come in the way of helping others. Simon saw Jesus being scourged and assumed that He ought to have done something wrong. There might have been times when we let our presumptions about a person come in the way of loving them as Christ called us to.

Are we hesitant to help some people?

Shouldn’t we see Jesus in others and reach out to help them?

Jesus asks us to love not only our friends but also strangers and enemies. Mother Teresa, being the perfect example of loving strangers, showed us how to see the face of Jesus in everyone. Who better to point at for an example of loving enemies than Jesus Christ Himself? He loved those who hated Him and prayed for those who persecuted Him. Like Simon, we may feel hesitant about reaching out to strangers or enemies, but Christ calls us to love our brothers and sisters just as He did. He died for their sins as much as He died for yours.

Lord Jesus, thank You for giving us the example of Simon of Cyrene, who became a great witness for following Your Way. Heavenly Father, grant us the grace to become Your witnesses by reaching out to those in need.

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Mishael Devassy

Mishael Devassy is a secondary school teacher and an active youth leader in the Diocese of Perth in Western Australia. She actively ministers to young people and is passionate about faith formation in teens.

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