Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Alexander and Rufus
We have solved the mystery of the mystery saints, thanks to our readers, right down to the shovels. Oddly enough, the shovels were to dig a garden. Who knew!
One of our kind readers mentioned that the two young people are probably the children of St. Simon of Cyrene who was dragged out of the crowd as Jesus passed by with His cross. Jesus has at this point fallen three times and His executioners must be getting nervous that He's not going to make it all the way to His execution. So they drag this pagan man out of the crowd. Simon has three children but only two are old enough to be milling around with their shovels on their way to dig in the garden.
The Mystery Saints are Alexander and Rufus. The third child eventually went to live with St. Stephen (the patron saint of headaches and first martyr).
Of Course! Why didn't I think of that? Where is my brain?
How to we know all this?
We don't. Simon's two children, Alexander and Rufus are mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. (21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.) But the idea that they were running around with shovels on their way to do some gardening and the idea that Simon had one more child who was younger and who went to live with St. Stephen? I'd say it's made up, more or less, like Veronica and her veil. Veronica and her veil, to the surprise of many, do not make an appearance in the New Testament. Veronica and her veil are not to be confused with the Shroud of Turin.
There is no woman named Veronica who wipes the face of Jesus on His way to Calvary in the New Testament. Where did she come from? Who knows. I think the idea that someone wiped the face of Jesus and the image stayed has something to do with the fact that there IS a Shroud of Turin. Somehow the idea that there is a TRUE (Vera) IMAGE (icon) of the face of Christ during His Passion became a woman's name.
It's a very nice name.
In fact, several of the things that happen during our Stations of the Cross are not in the New Testament. The early Stations of the Cross had Jesus falling seven times, maybe to reflect the Seven Deadly Sins Jesus came to conquer. The New Testament doesn't mention Him falling at all. And no Veronica.
Simon of Cyrene does make the cut! Simon is mentioned in three of the four Gospels. And although Alexander and Rufus are mentioned, they are only mentioned as the sons of Simon. It really doesn't say they are there at the time, or that they have any weeding ahead of them.
I read somewhere that Pope Paul IV came up with a new Stations of the Cross that reflect things that DID happen. I'll see if I can find it. Should be interesting.
How do we know Mary learned to sew or that her parents were named Joachim and Anne, that Simon and his children were on their way to plant some Early Girl tomatoes?
We don't know.
These things are passed down to us in something we call Sacred Tradition. That means we can believe it. The thing I find a little ironic is that many of these stories come from texts that were excluded from the New Testament, and rightfully so, in the fourth century when the Church finally decided, like that German girl who chooses the fashion designing contestants, what would be in and what would be out.
A Rose growing out of Joseph's staff? You're in.
Killer Baby Jesus? Auf Wiedersehen.
At the risk of confusing you further here's a breakdown of what to believe:
1.Things written in the Bible. Believe it or not? Not that easy. Some of the things in the Bible are stories and parables. Some things are up for interpretation, like the writings on the End Times. For the most part, believe it. Certainly everything in there is something God wanted you to know.
2. Private revelations. Believe it or not? Private revelations are things that people are told privately by saints, Jesus, Mary, angels. The Church will let you know which ones are worthy of your consideration. You can believe it or not. For example, St. Bernadette talks to Mary at Lourdes/BELIEVE it (if you want), Nancy Fowler sees Mary in her dryer in Conyers, Georgia/don't believe it (even if you want to).
3. Sacred Tradition. Believe it or not? Believe it. I think it's just one of those "it's good for my old mother, it's good enough for me" kinds of things. The Church clearly feels there is enough Truth.
Here's a rule of thumb. If Truth has a capital "T" believe it. That's why you always see the words "Sacred Tradition" written thus and not 'sacred tradition' like we're crawling off somewhere with a bunch of crazy stories.
Glad to have solve the mystery, although it should have rung at least a little bell.