There are just some people that I wish history told us more about. One such character was Simon of Cyrene, the man the Romanís threaten into carrying the cross of Christ. I wonder what it was like to carry that wooden blank of wood, or was it more? Did Simon also feel the weight of the sins of the world? Or did Christ keep that burden to himself? Did the blood from Christís body caused by the beating the Roman Soldiers gave, end up touching Simon? What was the blood that took away the sins of the world like? Was it any different from yours or mine? So many questions that will never be answered, at least not in this lifetime, but there is another point to be made from this story. That would be the helping of others to carry their burdens when those burdens become too heavy for them alone. You see the world is not fair; we already made that point in the previous chapter. In addition, guess what, God knows that this world is unfair. The difference between those who truly love Christ and those that donít is as simple as those that are near sighted, and those that are far sighted.
Near sighted people look inwardly, and dwell on their own pain. They believe no one has suffered as much as they have, and that is what justifies their behavior in this world. They have a very pessimistic attitude towards life, as they see doom and gloom around every corner. These poor souls reflect the heart of the "Me Generation." You know you have met these people; they are the ones that use "I" in every sentence. They believe the best looking person in the world is the one staring back at them through the mirror. They are the ones who brought hook, line and sinker into Satanís great lie that "Charity starts at home" and what greater home is there then their own bodies. They never give anything away because; you just never know when you are going to need this or that. When these lost souls are asked for help they always have an excuse for why they canít. There is always pressing business, or an important meeting, etc. The sad reality of this story is that it describes so many of US. You and me!
Then, there are those that see the big picture. They set their sights outwardly, choosing to see the pain of others and in choosing to do so their problems become miniscule in the grand scheme of life! The amazing thing about these "Saints" is that they donít realize they are doing what they do. They deflect talking about their problems and instead listen to yours, while always providing an encouraging word. The world considers these precious being as doormats to walk on, instead of heroes to emulate. What does it take to join their elite club? Total Surrender! What does the workout consist of to ready oneself to walk this weary road? Learning to carry two crosses at a time, yours and your brothers. There can be no thinking, as this takes total instinct, for when one thinks, one has a tendency to focus upon the injustices you are bearing. Can you do this???
Let us now focus on the story of Simon of Cyrene. We see our Christ as a human who has been badly beaten, with a crown of thorns placed upon his head. He has received the Roman punishment of 40 lashes, a death unto itself. He has been slapped, punched, and spat upon. No man could endure anymore than Christ, except that Christ did, for not only was He a man, but He was also God and as God He had to endure the sins of the world, past, present and future. As God, He had to endure separation from the Godhead, His Father. The culmination of all mentioned in this paragraph was just too much for this God/Man, and something had to give. Therefore, Christ stumbles and falls three times under the burden of the weight of His cross. At that moment in time, Jesus Christ needed help, and Simon was the man who provided that service. Although unwillingly at first, but none the less God choose this man from Cyrene as Jesusí helper. All of Christís supposed disciples had forsaken him, allowing God to touch one more soul on the Via Della Rosa; in so doing this, allowed Christ to focus on the needs of others, as he reached out to the women of Jerusalem.
As we know the world is an unfair place, and it picks its victims without rhyme or reason. Things can be going fine, then, all of a sudden; the rug is pulled out from under your feet. Too many times, both inside and outside of my family I have seen this happen. The world just started hitting, and hitting, and hitting, knocking the unsuspecting soul down repeatedly. First a problem at home, which leads to a problem at work, which once again reverses itself to the home. Like a snowball rolling down a hill that grows larger, and builds up speed until it finally crashes into whatever stands in its way. My brother is a perfect example, in one year he loss his business, his family and his wealth; the old one, two, three combination! How I prayed for the right words to say, but there were none. All I could do was to provide him with my presence. All I could do was to offer him a break from the weight of the cross he was carrying. All I could do was to be Simon to and for him and help him carry his cross to Golgotha where the man I knew was crucified, died and was buried. Oh, but that is not the end of the story, for a new man did appear. A new man that was stronger, and more loving, and more committed to Christ than the one whom died.
There are many ways in which you or I can become Simon to our brothers and sisters in need. There is the emotional help that we can provide to assist in carrying a burden. Then, and just as importantly, there is the spiritual service we can render through our prayers. Finally and by no means the least of all are the physical needs that will surely arise. Providing one benefit without the other two, although greatly appreciated, would be incomplete. For how can one state to a brother or a sister in need, that you will pray for them, while they go hungry. Although prayer is important, it does not feed an empty stomach.
There is a fine balance one must strike between helpful service, and the allowing of the person in need to become dependent upon that service. We are only there to help carry the burden, but the nails of the crucifixion are meant for the brother or sister in need. Yes, God does sift the wheat, and this is but one of many fires this brother or sister in the Lord must bear. For it is through the fires of challenges that we are purified for our ultimate destiny, heaven.
So many wonder why a loving God allows these bad things to happen to the supposed good soul. Remember; before you too walk down this path and lose your faith that there is nothing good accept God. We are all sinners! We have all failed and fallen short of Godís glory! It is those whom God loves that He reproves. Just as a father chastens his child, so God chastens His children. God knows your needs, and He knows your limits. Like the weight lifter that pushes with all his might to thrust up that last repetition, so God uses adversity to strengthen our soul. There is an unseen battle that encircles us each and everyday, and the spoils of this battle are our very souls. Satan and his minions fight against the very fabric of this world. One way you can know the devil is winning in your life is to not have any adversity. For as long as Satan keeps you happy, you have no need to search out God. Just think back on your own life and remember when times were good. Whom did you give the credit to?
We can all be a Simon to someone, if only we allow ourselves to look outside of our own needs. If we could care more about our brothers and/or our sisters, than our own needs, isnít that bringing a little bit of heaven, here to earth. Imagine how the world would be if there was no selfishness, no loneliness, no one left alone to carry a burden too heavy for them to handle. Imagine a world without despair, or feelings of inadequacy. Imagine a world where people pray for each otherís needs. Could this be the one teaching of Christ we never understood? If we could grasp this one teaching of Christ could that begin the ushering in of the New Heaven and the New Earth?
One last point that needs to be made on this lesson of Simon, which is, being able to swallow oneís own pride, and allow anotherís help to you. As Christ accepted Simonís help, we too must be willing to allow someone to help us. It is false and dangerous to think that there is nothing in the world that we could not handle by ourselves. This is the vanity of vanity that Solomon warns about in the wisdom writings. Pride is one of those sins that allows people to sing that old Sinatra tune "I did it my way." It allows people to focus their gaze inwardly, which, as we showed in this chapter, is not the best way to look at a problem. If Simon was here today I believe he would say, "Simon Says reach out and touch somebodyís hand, making this world a better place anytime that you can." AMEN!