And I see them - demons - around the pillar, and around the Roman soldiers. Hundreds upon hundreds of grotesque beings who can best, I feel, be described as "hate with form." These demons move among the soldiers and constantly whisper to them. The soldiers grow agitated even though, as of yet, nothing is happening.
Suddenly many of these demons rush past me and mingle with the common people and the same agitation stirs in them. I hear them hiss as they pass by me, a sound of fire sizzling with unvented energy.
The soldiers move. There is a shout. A command. And Jesus, our Lord and God, is brought out from a small doorway into the courtyard.
I see Him and my heart weeps for already He is barely recognizable, so much has He endured. His garments are stained, His once beautiful honey-colored hair darkened by blood, sweat and the filth people have battered Him with.
He moves slowly, already fatigued and in pain, and His footsteps are unsteady. There are two burly Roman soldiers, one on each side who, by keeping a hand on each elbow, move Jesus to the pillar. There they remove the ropes around His wrists and waist as well as the heavy chain which is wrapped around His neck and which crisscrosses His chest.
The soldier in charge, a youngish man a year, maybe two younger than our Lord, orders the prisoner to strip. Jesus meekly obeys, but he has difficulty pulling the long tunic over His head for the binding of His wrists has stopped proper circulation in His arms.
Impatiently the garment is yanked over His head, and because the hundreds upon hundreds of demons still harass the soldiers, they all but rip the shorter tunic off. Jesus, the Sinless One, the Pure Lamb of God, is naked except for His undergarment which surrounds His loins.
The captain gives another command and the two soldiers attach a chain again to Jesusí wrists and they pull Him to the pillar. There is an iron ring near the top of the pillar, and through this ring the soldiers run the length of the chain until Jesus is stretched completely. Our Lord is on tip-toe and His torso and limbs are elongated as far as possible.
He says nothing but I can hear Him praying; to His Father the prayer of His Divine Heart and Soul rises. It is a continual prayer of forgiveness and it is united with Infinite Love, and also Infinite Sadness.
Another order, and the men come from under the porch where they have waited in the shade. I understand they are professional torturers in the hire of the Roman government. They are brawny men, bare-chested with muscles that bulge as each flexes the scourge or whip he holds. The three men take up their position.
The first steps forward, eyes fixed upon his victim and the whip is tested several times for accuracy and strength as it lands only inches from our Lord'í feet, sand the hard ground is cut to pieces as dirt flies. The Roman captain nods and now the whip flies forward. Now, it is not hard ground, but soft, tender flesh that it rips.
Over and over and over again in a rhythmic motion, the whip finds our Lordís back and curves around to his torso, chest, ribs. The head, neck, shoulders, buttocks, legs, knees, and feet are not left unscathed, and the whip bites deeply. Large, horrid long welts are raised and appear scarlet against Jesusí white flesh.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Three of Lesson 10: THE SCOURGING AND THE CROWNING WITH THORNS