The 2 thieves. Ways of carrying the cross

At another moment on the way to Calvary, Jesus passes a group of women weeping for Him. He consoles them and makes a "call to repentance, to true repentance, to sorrow, in the truth of the evil committed. Jesus says to the daughters of Jerusalem who weep at his sight: Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Lk 23:28). We cannot remain on the surface of evil; we must get to its root, to its causes, to the deepest truth of conscience (...). Lord, grant me to know how to live and walk in the truth".

Jesus, as part of the procession, and to make his death more humiliating, is accompanied by two thieves. A newly arrived spectator, who knew nothing, would see three men, each carrying his cross, on the way to death. But only one is the Savior of the world, and only one is the redeeming Cross.

Today, too, the cross can be carried in different ways. There is a cross carried with rage, against which man revolts full of hatred or, at least, of deep discomfort; it is a cross without meaning and without explanation, useless, that even distances from God. It is the cross of those who in this world seek only comfort and material well-being, who cannot bear pain and failure, because they do not want to understand the supernatural meaning of suffering. It is a cross that does not redeem: it is the cross carried by one of the thieves.

On the road to Calvary, a second cross is carried with resignation, perhaps even with human dignity, accepting it because there is no other choice. This is how the other thief carries it, until little by little he realizes that very close to him is the sovereign figure of Christ, who will completely change the last moments of his life here on earth, and also eternity, and will make him become the good thief.

There is a third way of bearing it. Jesus embraces the saving Cross and teaches us how we should carry ours: with love, co-redeeming with Him all souls, making reparation for our sins. The Lord has given a profound meaning to sorrow. He could redeem us in many ways, but he did so through suffering, because no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for his friends.

The saints have discovered that pain, suffering and adversity cease to be something negative the moment we do not see the cross alone, but with Jesus who passes by and goes out to meet us. "My God, may I hate sin, and unite myself to You, embracing the Holy Cross, to fulfill in my turn Your most gracious Will..., naked of all earthly affection, with no other aim than Your glory..., generously, reserving nothing for myself, offering myself to You in perfect holocaust".

Simon of Cyrene met Jesus through the Cross. The Lord will reward him for his help by giving the faith also to his two sons, Alexander and Rufus; they would soon be outstanding Christians of the first hour. We must think that Simon of Cyrene would later be a faithful disciple, esteemed by the first Christian community of Jerusalem. "It all began by an unexpected encounter with the Cross.

"I appeared to those who did not ask for me, those who did not seek me found me" (Is 65:1).

"Sometimes the Cross appears without our looking for it: it is Christ who asks for us. And if perhaps before that unexpected Cross, and perhaps for that reason more obscure, the heart shows repugnance... do not give him consolations. And, full of noble compassion, when it asks for them, tell it slowly, as if in confidence: Heart, heart on the Cross, heart on the Cross!

Today's meditation is an opportune moment for us to ask ourselves how we deal with setbacks and pain. It is a good opportunity to examine if they bring us closer to Christ, if we are co-redeeming with Him, if they serve to atone for our faults.