And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. Mark 15:21
There are two compulsions that a person can experience. In this scripture, we readily see the outward form. No good Roman soldier should be forced to carry a cross for a condemned man. And it would have been insulting to select a member of the local population to do the task. But, this passer-by from another place would be a palatable choice for the humiliating task. Thus, Simon of Cyrene was compelled to bear the cross.
Yet, the text also suggest the inward form of compulsion. Faith was often handed down from the father to the wife and to children. In his letter to the Roman church, Paul sends greetings to Rufus who is a leader among the Christians and his mother whom he has a close bond of friendship. They and Alexander were colleagues of Mark. Simon had first hand knowledge of the crucifixion and must have believed in the resurrection. He shared this faith with his family (and perhaps with his countrymen Simeon and Lucius mentioned in Acts 13:1) and his witness bore fruit. His outward compulsion was cruel and unfair. But, the inward compulsion Simon had to share Christ gave hope to others and helped to grow the body of the faithful.
Many of us were compelled to go to church, say our prayers, read scriptures, and sing hymns by our parents. And it is good that children should be brought up in the faith. But, the lesson of Simon of Cyrene is this: When we are compelled inwardly by the Gospel, we can overcome our bitter experiences to effectively share the Good News with others. I pray that you will be compelled today and everyday by the grace, love, and power of Jesus Christ.
Your Brother in the Lord,
Order of Saint-Simon