18th April 2020

With you always

19/4/20 Matthew 27:31b-32; 28:19-20 With you always

I am with you always” is a commitment that only love can make and only unconditional love can fulfil. Our own such commitments all too easily falter and fail, but today, we have read of 2 very different ways of providing this kind of companionship. The first is forced by circumstances as Simon of Cyrene was forced to accompany Jesus and carry His cross. That was far from being a choice made by love, but nevertheless Simon was, from that moment on, the closest companion to Jesus, in his suffering and death.

Life does not always give us what we wish. For those of us, whose husband or wife and best friend have suffered life-changing circumstances from a serious accident or the onset of serious illness, circumstances then overturned both our lives contrary to everything that we had planned or hoped for. We can identify with Simon, forced to help carry someone else’s cross. Yet this un-wished for commitment became a precious time, a time to come closer to both to Jesus and the person we love; & a time of knowing Christ’s presence, grace, love and peace. (Mark’s gospel (15;21) refers to Simon as the father of Alexander and Rufus in a way that suggests that he and his sons became part of the early Church after Easter because of that meeting and experience).

In this also unexpected, unwished-for time of lockdown, isolation and anxiety, may each of us also know the assurance of God’s love and presence, and learn to live each day – and night – in the company of Jesus and in light of that gracious love.

In the second part of the reading, as physically they could see Jesus no longer, out of sight but not out of mind, Jesus sends His friends into what would prove to be a hostile world. This commission to share the love and truth of Jesus is laid upon us today, no less than upon them then, and it feels overwhelming. Jesus knows this and makes His love-promise, to us just as to them: I am with you always, whatever life brings.

Look back, and remember He was with you.
Stand still, and realise He is with you.
Walk forward, and trust He will be with you always.

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