If you have ever read or heard the Passion of Jesus then you have heard of Simon of Cyrene. Chosen out of the crowd of onlookers to help Christ carry his cross, Simon bore the weight of Jesus’ burden for a small amount of time.
There is such significance in the short line in the Gospel that reads, “As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.” Matthew 27:32. How hard that must have been for him! Picking up the cross of a condemned man was surely an embarrassment. It also rendered him defiled and unable to participate in the Passover festivities and meal. Still, pressed into service, he obeyed and helped Jesus carry His cross. In depictions of this act we see Simon being forced to help, but as he nears the end, he is willing to help with this arduous task. I can only imagine the awe he felt when they reached the top of Golgotha where Jesus would lose His life. What a life changing experience for Simon and his family.
We often have crosses that are too heavy for us to bear alone. We have all heard Jesus’ words from Matthew 16:24 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” But how hard is it for us to do just that? Often we stumble, as Christ did on his journey with His cross, and we need someone to help us carry the burdens that are just too heavy to carry alone. Thankfully God, in His wisdom, still provides just the right people to help us along the way… our very own Simons of Cyrene.
All too often we feel like we have to carry our crosses alone. Of course God is always there to help us shoulder the weight of the cross but He also gives us both heavenly and earthly helpers just when we need them. Do we see them for what they are worth?
The Simons of the world come in so many varieties. Some may be quiet prayerful friends whom you can ask to pray for you and for your worries. Others may be the friend who sends you funny, pick-me-up cards in the mail to make you smile. Some may call you and talk for hours and yet others might be the friends who sit quietly and listen. Simon might be found in a stranger at Mass who compliments you on your beautiful family not realizing that right before you got there you had yelled about missing shoes, socks and coats. He might be found in the kindness of a stranger who pays for your meal in front of you at a fast food restaurant, even if you only ordered something small. Simon may be in the gentle smile of the nurse who is tending to your sick child or the friend who takes your children for the day “just because”. He is there when someone helps us financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
God knew that our crosses were not going to be easy to bear. He knew that following His Son would require great faith and strong shoulders. However, He also knew that there would be times we cannot do it alone. Just as He provided Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry His cross, God also provides us with people in our lives to bear the weight of our crosses when they become too heavy to hold alone.
I urge you to think about the people in your life whom God has provided to you to help carry your crosses. Pray for them. Thank God for them. Show them how thankful you are that they are in your life and that they are willing to shoulder your burdens, your worries, your hardships, and your sorrows.
We are all called to be like Simon of Cyrene. We are called to help each other in our struggles. Are we Simon for others? If not, why not? We are reminded in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
When you feel overwhelmed, when you feel alone, when you feel your worries are too heavy to bear, remember that Christ also needed someone to help Him carry His cross as well. Go to God, go to Jesus, go to those He has provided to help ease your burdens. Find the Simons in your life and let them help you carry your cross.