And after they had mocked him, they took off the cloak from him, and put on him his own garments, and led him away to crucify him.  And going out, they found a man of Cyrene, named Simon: him they forced to take up his cross.  And they came to the place that is called Golgotha, which is the place of Calvary. (Mt 27.31-33)
 And as they led him away, they laid hold of one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the country; and they laid the cross on him to carry after Jesus.  And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women, who bewailed and lamented him.  But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children. (Lk 23.26-28)
The via crucis, or Way of the Cross is a meditation on the sorrows of Our Lord in the last hours of His life. From what I have been told, this devotion was first instituted by St. Francis of Assisi as a means to teach us humility in the face of the suffering of Our Lord on our behalf.
And his suffering is extreme. The cross weighs down on him, most likely a hudred pounds or more. He has to carry it across his back and shoulders, which were opened up under the cruel lash of the flagella. He has most likely lost a huge quantity of blood, and is dehydrated, and yet He continues to walk to Golgotha, knowing that was His destiny, to die for us.
The Fourth Sorrowful mystery encapsulates that final journey. As he walks, he stumbles, and as he stumbles, the Romans, enraged, beat Him more severely. He is denied water or rest, but driven on to His execution, mocked and spat upon the entire way.
Is this our King? Is this Our Lord? How can it be? How can He be thus treated, especially by those whom He would save?
At this point, I find it useful to put myself in that crowd. Our pride tells us that we would not mock Him, we would not spit upon Him or curse Him, but let's be honest. We already have. This great sacrifice was made on our behalf, paying a price that we cannot, and that He should not, and the only just response on our part is gratitude and repentance. But what is our response? To quote St. Augustine addressing God: "If you withhold the lash, we sin the more". If we weep when we think about Jesus's sufferings, we shed false tears, because we don't amend our behavior.
Would that we could be like St. Veronica, who gives Our Lord a moment of peace and respite, if only by offering a cloth to wipe His face of the blood and sweat and dirt caked thereon. She did not know Him, she did not know what He had done, or was accused of doing. She just saw a man in pain, and tried to provide comfort. Would that we could finally set sin aside and take up the cross that is destined for us.
We should be walking the Way of the Cross, to pay for our own sins. But how often do we reject the cross as given us? "But I don't like that." "I don't want that." "That isn't what I had planned." We sound like recalcitrant children: "It isn't fair, why don't I get to enjoy myself?"
And yet Our Lord never faltered from His course. Knowing our weakness, He grimly shouldered that Cross and placed foot before foot on the way to the place of the Skull. Poor sinful, stupid creatures that we are, we stand and watch, while Our Lord continues on His way.
God, grant us the grace of endurance.