Many times I’ve stared at Titian’s famous painting “Christ on the Way to Calvary,” which depicts Simon of Cyrene as he helped Jesus carry the cross up the hill to Golgotha. In the painting, it looks as though there is some kind of communication happening between the two—Christ sorrowfully glancing up over his left shoulder and Simon gazing down with kindness at the face of Jesus. What would I have said were I in Simon’s shoes? Maybe it would have been something along the lines of “Ah, holy Jesus, how have you offended, that mortal judgement has on you descended?”

That’s Jesus right there

The other day, as I was driving my 12-year-old daughter Ruby to school, we saw a weather-beaten woman sitting at the top of the freeway exit, begging for money in the Albuquerque sun. I said to Ruby, “That’s Jesus right there.”

“What do you mean?” she asked. I explained how Christ continually identified himself with the downtrodden and marginalized in the world—with beggars, lepers, tax collectors, harlots, thieves—with the “least of these,” according to the society of his day. She still looked at me quizzically. Thrilled to have gained her attention on the subject, I said, “The humility of God is a pearl of great beauty in this desolate world.”

Afraid I might lose her attention, I found myself awkwardly blathering on about the world and its mad lust for fame, influence, riches, stature. I talked about the Kardashians, Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Kim Jong Un, Elon Musk, and other influencers and powerful figures who are on Ruby’s radar. I described how the life Jesus led was in the sharpest contrast to the values of the ...

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