The Little Boy With Down Syndrome Who Helped Jesus Carry His Cross
“In the sight of Heaven,” all lives have infinite value
ChurchPop recently reported about the story of a little boy with Down syndrome who comforted an actor portraying Jesus in a Passion procession in Mexico. (See the video above.) Not understanding that it was only a staged performance, the little boy ran up to the actor playing Jesus, comforting him and trying to protect him from the cruel “Roman soldiers.” Sometimes, people emerge as unlikely heroes, but this time, the hero was perhaps the most likely of them all: an innocent child. The world might quickly dismiss this story, and that would be a shame. Because this little boy has a message that the world needs to hear.
We live in a world of destructive accounting, in which human worth is often measured in trimesters, dollars and chromosomes. It is a world that often finds no asset in the human heart and soul, but insistently places everything and everyone in the liabilities column in its vicious ledger. But amid all of this unkindness, a little boy quietly emerged from the crowd to comfort the heart of God.
As Christians, we often ask Jesus to comfort us—to assure us over and over that everything will be all right. And rightly so. But how often do we think to comfort Him, or think that such a thing is even possible? Consider this: as Jesus carried His cross, He foresaw our lives. He knew whether we would love Him or turn from Him. He knew that despite His passion and death on the cross, some men would turn away from His salvific love, and this intensified His sufferings. But He also knew that some souls would embrace Him—and not just those contemporaries who walked with Him, but you and I in the 21st century—and He was comforted in His Passion by those who accepted the grace of final perseverance. “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion,” we strive more diligently to be holy, to overcome temptation, to love Him.
To put it simply, you and I can comfort God. And a little boy reminded us of that fact.
We also comfort God in comforting each other. As we go throughout our days, we are surrounded by friends, family, and strangers who are united by the mystical reality that each one carries a cross. In helping them, we help Jesus. As Jesus explains, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” As Jesus assured us, “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” In effect, Jesus is saying: “I was weighed down with a cross, and you helped carry it.” Thus, in helping carry their crosses, we help carry the very cross of Christ.
The incident with the brave boy centers our attention on the fact that it is those with Down syndrome that we need to stand up for and protect.
When a Christian witnesses the scene of this brave boy, he may be all the more sickened that—as the ChurchPop storypoints out—there are many people whoendorse the abortion of Down syndrome children. In response to this attitude, one might call to mind Charles Dickens’ line from A Christmas Carol: “It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child.” The great English novelist famously knew that many have a ghastly view of the value of life. Yet the truth is that all God’s children are meant to live and to be truly alive with the indwelling of God, independent of whether one has Down syndrome or one is brainwashed into thinking that the lives of those with Down syndrome are not worth living.
The truth is that, “in the sight of Heaven,” all lives have infinite value. And Christians need to profess this truth from the rooftops, because modern parlance is failing us in this regard. It is a terrible understatement to say that lives merely “matter.” Of course they matter. But well beyond mattering, every heart ever formed in the breast of man was willed by God to beat in unison with the heart of Jesus in the perfect happiness of His presence. The pity is not only that some men cannot see the value of those with Down syndrome—that would be tragic enough—but that they fail to see the infinite value of their own lives. We need to help them see their own inestimable value, and the value of everyone around them. We need to do what this young man did: bravely rush out to the road and comfort the sorrowing.