“That’s not my problem.” The phrase has been used for decades. We hear it on the television, in movies, our friends say it and we may even say it ourselves. It is a mantra that seems to fit well with America’s independent culture and our own demanding lives. We’re too busy, so we don’t have time to deal with other people’s problems. Our money is too precious to give anyone a handout. Other people’s problems aren’t our crosses to bear.
Yet, what would have happened to Simon of Cyrene if he had uttered those words when pressed into service to help Jesus? Unbeknownst to Simon he was serving the King of Kings, the Great Almighty, the very Giver of Life. What an honor and glory to serve God himself.
Every day, we are presented with opportunities to love our neighbor and help him “carry his cross.” These opportunities reveal themselves in a number of different forms, whether it means helping someone carry their groceries, going out of your way to take a friend to the doctor or simply being willing to give way to another car in traffic. The Lord calls us to love God and to love our neighbor. Sometimes, the opportunity arises for us to help perfect strangers, as it did for Simon in Matthew 27:32: “As they were marching out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross.” The easiest answer for us, as it would have been for Simon, would be to say no. Our schedule is full; money is tight this month; we don’t even know the people seeking help. But do such responses fall in line with our beliefs, our responsibility as Catholic stewards?
The truth of the matter is, God gives us everything we need to keep our schedules clear, our finances in order, and our hearts open to opportunities to serve him through the people he puts in our lives. In fact, the basis of Christian stewardship lies in careful, responsible tending of all the gifts God has given us – our physical abilities, our time, our finances, even our very life itself. These gifts allow us to accept God’s call and reach out to those who need our assistance. With the ideals of Catholic stewardship in mind, the needs of those less fortunate or those who require assistance are our crosses to bear, as we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. It is only through serving our brothers and sisters that we are able to serve Christ himself. “Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:45)