There is a sudden constellation of themes, which connects, in a surprising way Leviticus with today’s Gospel. ‘Carrying’ surfaces in three different meanings. The Leviticus with all its gloom can be summed up in terms of ‘carrying the inevitable weights of live.’ Here, life itself appears as an unbearable burden. There is no one to give support, there is none to carry our burdens.
Then, we can see Joseph of Arimathea, who ‘went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.’ (Luke 23:52) He takes, and carries the body of Jesus to the tomb. Previously, we already saw him at the scene of the Pieta. There, when Jesus was taken from the cross, the body of Christ was supported by Mary, and Joseph of Arimathea. We can attach to this theme of ‘carrying’ Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus to carry his cross.
Finally, in throughout the scenes of the Passion in Luke’s account, we saw the Son of Man, carrying our sins. The full weight of humankind.
What a profound theme, how these forms of ‘carrying’, their meanings, intersect. Leviticus sheds light on how futile it is to hope in our own ‘gods’ that they might carry us when life becomes tough. His pessimistic view of life is a judgement on the power of our ‘idol-gods’. His realism repeats the profound theological insight of the Old Testament. When people were taken to exile, and had to flee, they carried them with themselves. They hoped for their help. But actually, these heavy idols, literally, became a burden to their worshipers.
Carrying these false gods (false hopes) became pain and vexation. Instead of removing weariness from the people, they became the very source of weariness. Instead of rescuing their worshipers from exile, they are carried off into an existential exile. The Leviticus shows the nature and the futility of this overburdened journey.
Simon of Cyrene, and Joseph of Arimathea start carrying the true God. The spell that paralysed Leviticus is immediately over; they will feel it soon. However, the real focus is how we are being carried, with all our weight, by the Loving God. In the Passion, the theological genius of the Old Testament culminates. In the person of Jesus, we are carried back, where we should be. Into God’s outpouring life; where there are no false gods which could weight us down.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..