Read Matthew 27:24-44.
Even as a child, I have always been intrigued by Simon of Cyrene. Jesus has been telling his disciples to "take up your cross and follow him." Fair enough. That message is clear. But what happens when we are asked to take up someone else's cross and walk with them a while, as Simon is?
What happens to us when we stumble across the suffering of someone - and we cannot change the situation? All we can only step up to the plate and do what needs to be done.
Such moments change us forever. And I imagine this Friday changed Simon. What did he tell his family that night at dinner about his day? What did he tell his grandchildren forty years later?
Here is an interesting post in the most recent on-line version of The Christian Century by Craig Barnes, entitled, "I Don't Feel Your Pain." It raises questions about the differences between empathy, and sympathy, and compassion. It raises questions about how we can be present to the suffering of another - but in truth we cannot get inside of their pain. I wonder if this isn't relevant to Simon's experience. This is not his cross to bear, and he cannot know or feel what Jesus feels as they make their way to Golgatha. What he can do is walk part of the journey with Jesus. Maybe that is all we can ever really do for a fellow traveler who is suffering.