The Gospel of Simon
During the winter of 1996, the author was living in Alaska when he was inspired one night to write this story. Discouraged by some he hesitated to do so. But friends like Saul Bellow, Chayzn Zelder, and Norman Mailer encouraged him to proceed.
As this historical novel evolved, Smelcer recalls for us the story of Simon of Cyrene. Simon was in Jerusalem with his two sons for the Jewish Passover to sell his wines. While there, Simon was commanded by Roman soldiers to help Jesus of Nazareth carry a heavy wooden cross on which the Nazarene was to be crucified.
In his work of fiction, Smelcer goes beyond what we know about Simon to tell us the rest of the story. What was Simon actually like? Did he have a family? What happened to Simon after the crucifixion of Jesus? Is the role man should play in the world? What ever happened to Simon and his sons?
That same afternoon, an exhausted and bloodied Simon fled the execution site to find his sons in Jerusalem.
At home that same evening, Simon’s wife tended to the injuries he sustained while carrying the cross. Then he fell into an exhausted sleep. In that sleep Smelcer tell us that Simon experienced a dream.
In the dream, the man whose cross Simon helped carry to the execution site, addressed him, saying, “Peace be to you, Simon.”
And here the author’s real story and Simon’s journey begin. Jesus, the speaker in the dream, brings Simon and the reader to an understanding of the role that love, compassion, and courage must play in our relationships with God and with one another.
Jesus told Simon:
“Love one another. Laugh. Be joyous and allow others to find joy. Love kindness and humility. Love justice and seek it out. Strive for peace in all things, for blessed are they who revere peace. Forgive others, for there can be no love or peace without forgiveness.”
In Simon’s dream Jesus concludes His advice: “Love without fear, for love is the fulfillment of my message.”
The author tells the reader he grew spiritually from the experience of writing this book. Possibly his readers will, too.