Fifth Station Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the Cross(Meditation by a prisoner)As they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus (Lk 23:26).With my job I helped generations of children to believe in themselves. Then one day I found myself lying on the ground. It was as if they broke my back: my job was the pretext for a shameful conviction. I entered prison: prison entered my home. Since then I have become an outcast in the city: I have lost my name, I am now known by the crime of which I have been charged, I am no longer the master of my life. When I think about it, that child with worn-out shoes, wet feet, secondhand clothes comes to mind: that child was me, I was once that child. Then, one day, my arrest: three men in uniform, a rigid protocol, the prison that swallowed me alive in its concrete maw.The cross they placed on my shoulders is a heavy one. Over time I have learned to live with it, to look it in the face, to call it by name: we spend many nights keeping each other company. Inside prisons, Simon of Cyrene is known by everyone: it is the second name of volunteers, of those who mount this Calvary to help carry a cross; they are people who reject the law of the pack and listen to their conscience. Simon of Cyrene, too, is my cellmate: I met him my first night in prison. He was a man who had lived on a bench for years, without affection or income. His only wealth was a box of candies. He has a sweet tooth, but he insisted that I bring it to my wife the first time she visited me: she burst into tears at that unexpected and thoughtful gesture.I’m growing old in prison: I dream that one day, I will be able to trust others.To become a Cyrenean, bringing joy to someone.Lord Jesus, from the moment of your birth to the time you met a stranger who helped you carry your cross, you wanted to depend on our help. We too, like the Cyrenean, desire to be close to our brothers and sisters and to help in offering the Father’s mercy that breaks the yoke that oppresses them.Let us pray.O God, defender of the poor and comforter of the afflicted, strengthen us with your presence and help us to bear each day the easy yoke of your commandment of love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.