Jesus, as God, is not subject to coincidence. When he called down Zacharias from the tree, summoned the apostles to secure the colt for Him to ride triumphantly into Jerusalem at Passover, told Peter that he would betray Him and dismissed Judas from the Passover meal to go and do what he must do quickly, He did so by His omnipotent foreknowledge. And it is by it that He here now assigns Simon of Cyrene the role that would make him honored among men by sacrificing something of himself for his savior who was about to sacrifice everything for the forgiveness of sins and open wide the gates of heaven that had been sealed since man and woman first said no to God.
Many of us suffer some strife, whether temporary or chronic, that tests us physically, mentally or spiritually. Those who must bear such burdens may cry out: “Lord, why me?” Then there are those who may never know suffering or trials of any significance until they approach their death beds. And from these there may be heard the bewildered query: “Lord, why not me?” The question, in all truth, should be; “Lord why don’t you trust me?”
Our Lord tells us to take up our cross and follow Him. Those who have none to carry must wonder if they are trusted enough by God to do just that. Is it for this reason that God does not place upon some shoulders a cross of substantial weight? Or perhaps is there another reason? God has created an ordered universe. And for it to be ordered there must be balance.
If there are to be the weak and suffering among us would it not be just that there should be the strong and well to bring all into balance? God commands us to care for our brothers. If that command is to be fulfilled then there must be the strong to help the weak. Since there exists the dying in the streets of Calcutta, there must then be a Mother Teresa to nurse, nurture and comfort them. There must be the strong in life to instill in the weak that life has purpose, meaning and that it is valuable. Some must do for those, who by God’s will, cannot do for themselves. Those who need care will find God’s favor by bearing their burdens well and becoming an inspiration to others. Those caregivers who help them to achieve that end will receive equal grace. For all who observe this balance in play of those needing care and those providing care will be better for it. And through this display of order is shown that justice and charity can be found in this world; and that the witnesses thereof whose hearts are transformed will too be rewarded.
Christ was trusted with the cross as He bore the sins and sufferings of the world. Simon, in fine physical condition, was entrusted to help Our Lord carry His cross. Simon thought the cross only wood. But, in reality, it was saturated with the suffering, pain, weaknesses, sins, sorrows and regrets of all mankind. Only a God could bear such a burden. Yet Simon was able to carry it as well. Christ said: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” As our burdens in life are manageable when joined to Christ’s cross, so too was Simon able to manage the cross that was also joined with Christ. One can not calculate the value of grace received by Simon for his role when our savior’s hour had come.
Christ Himself exemplified the entrusted as he sighed when he healed the blind, lame and those possessed by demons. He felt power leave Him when the women suffering from hemorrhaging touched his robe in faith. And He groaned when He raised Lazarus from the dead. He is the divine caregiver who possesses not only the power to heal the sick and feed the poor but to release sinners from the death sentence that no long would bar them from eternal life. And what caregiver does not feel fatigue and the pain of empathy in the execution of their duty. In that they show themselves to be Christ-like. For we the well and capable are the channels of Christ empowered by Him to continue His good works in serving the unfortunate through faith and trust in Him.
Whether we are in the position to help one or millions all is the same in the sight of God. For care given to a loved one or a stranger is given to Christ. The grace received by Simon of Cyrene can be granted to anyone who performs good deeds for the sake of a brother or sister to whom God has so entrusted.