Simon is the stranger in the crowd who took pity on the Man. He is spotted by the tormentors who are so filled with hatred because they cannot stand to see any such sentiment. As Simon is a foreigner and looks like a foreigner, he is an easy target for their cruelty, and is commanded by them to carry the cross amid much jeering and behaviour designed to humiliate.
The look between Simon and the Man as the cross is passed to his shoulders is a look that speaks of Love; pure and simple, penetratingly unfathomable love….It is Christ who is asking for the cross to be carried, not the soldiers.
Simon cannot comprehend the burden of the cross. At heart he does not know what he is doing, only that his response to the Man’s suffering was pure and genuine. He reasons that if his motives were pure, why should he mind what it is all about and he carries the burden willingly. The insults and the mockery just fill him with a sense of pride in the Man whose passion he is sharing.
As the cross starts to weary his body, Simon starts to get angry: angry with the cruelty of the soldiers, angry with the world for its indifference, angry with men for their unremitting indifference to love.
At the height of his anger, he stumbles, falls and curses the world. The cross is returned to Jesus, who once again looks on him with such penetrating love whilst Simon himself feels a complete failure for being as base as those around him. He is ashamed, too ashamed to follow Our Lord, he tries to blend in again with the crown but the spittle on his face and the dirt of his clothes make him feel different from those around him. He is aware that although the burden has been removed, he will never be the same again.
The burden is gone, the physical pain of carrying the cross is there. An uneasy peace descends. Things are definitely not right with the world yet Simon has some release from this. In his union with Christ, he is forever changed. He stands at a distance on Calvary, nobody even notices him now, he is completely invisible, he savours his own nothingness and is horrified by his own unworthyness, knowing that Love itself is being crucified before him. His union with Christ is strong, yet it is Christ who is now completely pierced by the burden. All Simon knows, is that from the Cross, Our Lord is asking him to hope in Him and to love Him unreservedly.