Monday, 6 April 2015

Simon of Cyrene

I am a good Jewish boy with good Jewish boys.
I keep my Lord’s decrees.
I obey my God’s commands.
And my sons are just like me;
We come from Cyrene,
Famous for its fertile soil and its school of philosophy.
Most Cyrenians think they know everything that there is to know.
But they don’t.
They don’t know what it means to fear God;
to follow the Torah, to keep the law.
But I do, I’m a good Jewish boy, and my boys are too.
I obey my God’s commands.

It has been good to come here;
to the country of our forefathers,
to the land we left long ago.
We’ve never been here before, my boys and I,
but this is the place where we belong.
We’re on a pilgrimage.
We’ve come for the Passover.
We’ve come to be a part of the procession.
And we’ve come to get away from the Roman oppression.
But the Roman rule runs far and wide.
We cannot hide.
These bronze brutes with spears and boots are here too.  
They enforce the laws of a mad man
and execute his crazy plans.
Caesar says he’s our lord,
he says he’s our god.
He says we must obey his commands.
But how can I?
There is only one God, and I obey his commands.
I am a good Jewish boy with good Jewish boys.
That’s why we’re here.
We’re come to worship our God and King, the Lord Almighty.

But today there is another procession
crawling through these crowded streets.
A convoy of men condemned to die.
I’ve heard about these crucifixions before:
The blood, the cross beams, the broken bones.
I don’t want my boys to know.
They are good boys, good Jewish boys.
But before I can usher them away
a Roman soldier taps me on the shoulder.
The flat of his spear fills me with fear.
I must obey his command.
I am just a pilgrim, just a passerby,
forced to carry the cross bar for this criminal.
And he’s a Jew, just like me,
but he must be guilty of something.
He must be a lawbreaker, unlike me.
The crowd are taunting him, calling him the King.
“King of the Jews!” they accuse.
“The Christ! The King!” they spit and tease.
I am so close I can hear him wheeze.
I see him struggling beside me.
I wonder what crime he has committed.
Up close he looks so innocent,
not the naive kind of innocence,
the blameless kind.
He looks very kind.
His look is very kind.
There is something in those eyes.
Maybe you are a good Jewish boy.
A good Jewish boy obeying your God,
defying the Roman world and dying for it.
Obediently walking the road to your death.
Well, lead the way. I will follow.
© Catherine Burton March 2015

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