Please God, more Scriptural and Patristic sources will be added to the present “rant style” meditations when circumstances at Holy Souls Hermitage aren’t quite so utterly barbaric.
The purpose of this first run through these mysteries is to note especially the goodness and kindness of Jesus amidst the violence and chaos back in the day… and today. Hang on, it might be a bit of a rough ride, as rough and tumble as we focus on, in this post, Jesus being crowned with thorns. Let’s take a look at Matthew 27,27-31 from the old NAB:
Matthew 27,27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him. 28 They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. 29 Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.
The soldiers, in mocking Jesus as King of the Jews accept that He is, in fact, the King of the Jews. They despise all Jews in the Person of Jesus, their King. If I were Jewish, and I may be (as I remember my mother speaking a bit of Yiddish when I was a kid), I would take Jesus as my all time Hero, taking all that abuse for me as He did… being able to stop it though He didn’t.
Perhaps one of the most common sins is to put others down so as to lift oneself up, though one doesn’t succeed in putting another down truly, only oneself, and much lower than what wished for the other. That’s how it works. Just think, all our sins of arrogant pride and self-promotion. Jesus takes it all, having the right in justice, then, to have mercy on us. And He does, precisely as King of the Jews, the Jews who were entrusted with the revelation of God as a Light to the Nations, that Lumen Gentium that Jesus is, that the Church now is as the Israel of God (which last phrase reminds me of Pope Benedict XVI’s brilliant new Good Friday prayer for the Jews for the Extraordinary Form of the “Mass of the Pre-Sanctified.”
Would I, as a Roman soldier, spit on Jesus and took my turn striking Him on the head, mashing around that crown of thorns, speaking words of derision? You bet. I have. We all have by our sins. I never tire of saying that this patient suffering is how Jesus gained the right in justice to have mercy on us. Why? Because there is such majesty in recognizing that the foundation of mercy is justice. Saint Thomas has it that mercy is a potential part of the virtue of justice. Well, O.K. Jesus took that potential by taking all the just condemnation of our own sin on Himself and exploited that potential to its fullest in this way. One cannot find any greater mercy than with Jesus. In Him, justice and mercy are but one and the same manifestation of Truth in Charity.
It makes me want to go to confession again, to celebrate the goodness and kindness of Jesus, but I just went! So, what to do? Ten Hail Marys for this decade are in order. Hail Mary…
“Behold! The Man!” — Pontius Pilate (John 19,2)