Just as the Jews cried out in pride to patronize Pilate "We have no king but Caesar," so also we, who are true sons of God, must, in all humility, state unequivocally: "We have no King but Jesus." Where He is mocked, we offer humble prayer of reparation and expiation for these terrible sins against the Incarnate Word so cruelly tortured and disfigured.
"The fruit of the third sorrowful mystery is humility because this virtue is the opposite of the vice of pride. The crowning of thorns on the head of our Savior is endured due to our pride; for the mind in our head tends to think of ourselves in an inordinately prideful manner. Our Lord submits to the humiliation of being crowned with thorns and the mockery that went along with it to atone for the sine of pride."
"Pilate therefore said to Him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice"
As we begin this meditation on the Crowning of Thorns, I want to share that I believe Pontius Pilate desperately wanted Jesus to deny that He was a king thus allowing Pilate to claim Jesus was not a threat to Caesar. The Jews had to get Jesus accused on this point in order to have Him crucified under Roman law. Had they only been able to get Him for blasphemy - claiming to be God, the Jews would have had to "see to it themselves" and under Jewish law they were not allowed to crucify one of this crime. But alas, Pilate caved in.
There was a video promoted by the late archbishop of New York John O'Connor called, "Hands Washed But Not Clean", a title that alluded to Pilate washing his hands of Jesus' death. The video is about abortions and the type of people who say, "I'm personally opposed but . . ." "I do not want to impose my morality on others" or some similar ridiculous sentiment. People like this are better off saying nothing rather than twaddling about this useless drivel. This is the cowardly way out. This is the way that gets Jesus and countless other innocents killed. If you believe in something, stand up for it when confronted; otherwise your lack of action implies that it is not worth believing in at all. Do the right thing and live or die with the consequences. Remember the words of the Lord in Apocalypse 3: 16 or rue it as you are regurgitated forth.
"And when morning was come, all the chief priests and ancients of the people took counsel against Jesus, that they might put Him to death. And they brought Him bound and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, who betrayed Him, seeing that He was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients, Saying: I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. But they said: What is that to us? Look thou to it. And casting down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed and went and hanged himself with an halter. But the chief priests having taken the pieces of silver, said: It is not lawful to put them into the corbona, because it is the price of blood. And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter's field, to be a burying place for strangers. For this cause that field was called Haceldama, that is, the field of blood, even to this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Him that was prized, whom they prized of the children of Israel. And they gave them unto the potter's field, as the Lord appointed to me" (Matthew 27: 1-10).
Think of the Social Kingship of Christ and how different the world would be if He reigned in the hearts of those in power in the modern Vatican today and all the leaders of the world. Why can't they read Pope Pius XI's Quas Primas and see that declaring Christ as King is the only answer to the political upheaval that seeks to bury the world in the pit of hell.
"And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked Him, saying: Art thou the king of the Jews? Jesus saith to him: "Thou sayest it." And when He was accused by the chief priests and ancients, He answered nothing. Then Pilate saith to Him: Dost not Thou hear how great testimonies they allege against Thee? And He answered him not to any word, so that the governor wondered exceedingly. Now upon the solemn day the governor was accustomed to release to the people one prisoner, whom they would. And he had then a notorious prisoner that was called Barabbas" (Matthew 27:11-16).
Jesus was accused of blasphemy but they could not kill Him for blasphemy so He is accused of calling Himself the King of the Jews so they try Him for being an insurrectionist. Why does Pilate ask Jesus if He is the King of the Jews? Keep in mind that up to this point Jesus has not spoken or tried to defend Himself. It is the people who accuse Him of this. This is how Pilate knows. Let's look at what the sage Doctor of the Church Saint Augustine says:
"On the Jews crying out that they did not wish Jesus to be released unto them all the passover, but Barabbas the robber; not our Savior, but the murderer; not the Giver of life, but the destroyer,--'then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.' We must believe that Pilate acted thus for no other reason than that the Jews, glutted with the injuries done to Him, might consider themselves satisfied, and desist from madly pursuing Him even, unto death. With a similar intention was it that, as governor, he also permitted his cohort to do what follows, or even perhaps ordered them, although the evangelist is silent on the subject. For he tells us what the soldiers did thereafter, but not that Pilate ordered it. 'And the soldiers,' he says, 'platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they clothed Him with a purple robe. And they came to Him and said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote Him with their hands.' Thus were fulfilled the very things which Christ had foretold of Himself; thus were the martyrs moulded for the endurance of all that their persecutors should be pleased to inflict; thus, by concealing for a time the terror of His power, He commended to us the prior imitation of His patience; thus the kingdom which was not of this world overcame that proud world, not by the ferocity of fighting, but by the humility of suffering; and thus the grain of corn that was yet to be multiplied was sown amid the horrors of shame, that it might come to fruition amid the wonders of glory."
"And the men that held Him mocked Him and struck Him. And they blindfolded Him and smote His face. And they asked Him saying: Prophesy: Who is it that struck Thee? And blaspheming, many other things they said against Him" (Luke 22: 63-65)
To claim to be a king was a crime in which the scourging would be particularly severe. We already have a certain verification that the soldiers are improvising the typical scourging procedures with the childish, yet gravely evil mockery of our Lord.
"Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of Me? Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy Own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee up to me. What hast thou done? Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now My kingdom is not from hence. Pilate therefore said to Him: Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice. Pilate saith to him: What is truth?" (John 18:34-38).
"They therefore being gathered together, Pilate said: Whom will you that I release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus that is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:17).
It is evident that the people have been urged into a frenzy against Christ. They do not realize the kingdom Jesus has been referring to during His public ministry. They wanted Him to be king and He already was King, the Christ, the Messiah and the Anointed One as prophesized by the following verses. Pay particular attention to the words "anointing" and "oil" and what these words signify. We use oil blessed by a bishop who, if properly consecrated, can trace his bishopric back to the Apostles in Confirmation, Holy Orders and Extreme Unction.
"And Samuel took a little vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said: Behold, the Lord hath anointed thee to be prince over his inheritance, and thou shalt deliver his people out of the hands of their enemies, that are round about them. And this shall be a sign unto thee, that God hath anointed thee to be prince. And they came to the foresaid hill, and behold a company of prophets met him: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he prophesied in the midst of them" (1 Samuel 10:1).
"And the men of Juda came, and anointed David there, to be king over the house of Juda. And it was told David that the men of Jabes Galaad had buried Saul" (2 Samuel 2:4).
"And thou shalt pour the oil of unction upon his head: and by this rite shall he be consecrated" (Exodus 29:7).
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, Saying: Take spices, of principal and chosen myrrh five hundred sicles, and of cinnamon half so much; that is, two hundred and fifty sicles, of calamus in like manner two hundred and fifty, And of cassia five hundred sicles by the weight of the sanctuary, of oil of olives the measure hin: And thou shalt make the holy oil of unction, an ointment compounded after the art of the perfumer, And therewith thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the testimony, and the ark of the testament, And the table with the vessels thereof, the candlestick and furniture thereof, the altars of incense, And of holocaust, and all the furniture that belongeth to the service of them. And thou shalt sanctify all, and they shall be most holy: he that shall touch them shall be sanctified. Thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and shalt sanctify them, that they may do the office of priesthood unto me. And thou shalt say to the children of Israel: This oil of unction shall be holy unto me throughout your generations. The flesh of man shall not be anointed therewith, and you shall make none other of the same composition, because it is sanctified, and shall be holy unto you. What man soever shall compound such, and shall give thereof to a stranger, he shall be cut off from his people" (Exodus 30:22-33).
Christ is our King and yet, we won't accept Him fully. We proclaim Him with our lips sometimes, but not by our actions. We prefer secular rulers, celebrities and idolaters or our own selfish inclinations to rule us, rather than submitting to the King and His holy Will. "The Kingdom of God is at hand." "The Kingdom of God is like this." Jesus is constantly talking about the Kingdom. "I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until I come into My Kingdom." Is it not profound to think how, at this moment, Jesus' fate is in the people's hands? All hail democracy, all hail conciliarism, all hail the people and the vox populi. The people He created who in reality have their fate in the Lord's hands. We should be careful how we treat one another. We are so quick to judge and condemn.
The Lamb is being led to the slaughter. Let's consult St. Augustine again:
"When Pilate, therefore, heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and entered again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer." It is found, in comparing the narratives of all the evangelists, that this silence on the part of our Lord Jesus Christ took place more than once, both before the chief priests and before Herod, to whom, as Luke intimates, Pilate had sent Him for a hearing, and before Pilate himself; so that it was not in vain that the prophecy regarding Him had preceded, "As the lamb before its shearer was dumb, so He opened not His mouth," especially on those occasions when He answered not His questioners. For although He frequently replied to questions addressed to Him, yet because of those in regard to which He declined making any reply, the metaphor of the lamb is supplied, in order that in His silence He might be accounted not as guilty, but innocent. When, therefore, He was passing through the process of judgment, wherever He opened not His mouth it was in the character of a lamb that He did so; that is, not as one with an evil conscience who was convicted of his sins, but as one who in His meekness was sacrificed for the sins of others."
"And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him, saying: Hail, King of the Jews. And spitting upon Him, they took the reed and struck His head" (Matthew 27:29-30)
"And they began to salute Him: Hail, king of the Jews. And they struck His head with a reed: and they did spit on Him. And bowing their knees, they adored Him" (Mark 15:18-19)
"And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head: and they put on Him a purple garment. And they came to Him and said: Hail, king of the Jews. And they gave Him blows" (John 19: 2-3).
These thorns were most probably about three inches in length; long enough to penetrate the skull and perhaps touch the brain. Recall here how some of the great doctors of the Church teach how Christ took the curse of Adam upon Himself, here He does so by taking the thorns which were a part of the curse in Genesis 3 and allowing them to be used for the piercing of His precious skull.
"Then the soldiers of the governor, taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band" (Matthew 27:27).
Some historians believe these soldiers were Syrians, and, even to this day, it is no secret that Syrians have always hated Jews. This was the one occasion for the Gentiles to revile Christ. The whole cohort came. The implication is that they were under orders to come. It is also interesting to note that the kind of thorns used on His head did not grow in the proximate area of Jerusalem. Several commentaries suggest that these were long thin thorns used as fuel for the fire so they would have had these on hand. The reed they used to strike Him, was probably more like a stick than something flimsy. They put the robe on to mock Him. A purple robe of royalty, a reed, scepter, thorns and a crown that was more like a very painful helmet pushed on his head. Then they mock him as a King by bowing down in an exaggerated mocking posture of adoration. When a nation had been conquered, the victor was given crowns and the crown that meant the most was at the victory sight; the leaves and twigs at the place of the battle meant the most to the conqueror.
I referred early to the "curse of Adam" and let's look at Genesis 3: 17-18:
"And to Adam He said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work: with labor and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herbs of the earth,"
The thorns of the ground epitomized the curse of Adam. They take that and make it into a mocking crown but it is in fact the crown of victory because this is how Jesus conquered sin and death. In Isaias 53: 3-4 we see the prophecy:" I have given My body to the strikers, and My cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away My face from them that rebuked Me, and spit upon Me. The Lord God is my helper, therefore am I not confounded: therefore have I set my face as a most hard rock, and I know that I shall not be confounded."
Jesus was in a sense put to shame but in essence He ends up shaming all His enemies. He is the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for the sake of His sheep. We see how He has been disfigured from Isaias 53: 3-4, "Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted."
When we consider the disfigurement, one has to ask how did our Lord look after the scourging, and how did He endure it, and what was the meaning of this before Pilate. Again, St. Augustine provides answers:
"Then saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered: Thou wouldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." Here, you see, He replied; and yet wherever He replied not, it is not as one who is criminal or cunning, but as a lamb; that is, in simplicity and innocence He opened not His mouth. Accordingly, where He made no answer, He was silent as a sheep; where He answered, He taught as the Shepherd. Let us therefore set ourselves to learn what He said, what He taught also by the apostle, that 'there is no power but of God;' and that he is a greater sinner who maliciously delivereth up to the power the innocent to be slain, than the power itself, if it slay him through fear of another power that is greater still. Of such a sort, indeed, was the power which God had given to Pilate, that he should also be under the power of Caesar. Wherefore 'thou wouldest have,' He says, 'no power against me,' that is, even the little measure thou really hast, 'except' this very measure, whatever its amount, 'were given thee from above.' But knowing as I do its amount, for it is not so great as to render thee altogether independent, 'therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.' He, indeed, delivered me to thy power at the bidding of envy, whilst thou art to exercise thy power upon me through the impulse of fear. And yet not even through the impulse of fear ought one man to slay another, especially the innocent; nevertheless to do so by an officious zeal is a much greater evil than under the constraint of fear. And therefore the truth-speaking Teacher saith not, 'He that delivered me to thee,' he only hath sin, as if the other had none; but He saith, 'hath the greater sin,' letting him understand that he himself was not exempt from blame. For that of the latter is not reduced to nothing because the other is greater."
"And they began to salute him: Hail, king of the Jews (Mark 15: 18)
They are really making a big deal about this king thing aren't they? The death penalty, when used appropriately, is a great deterrent from evil, a great motivation to repentance and great way to balance the scales of justice but it is kind of important to make sure you got the right man is it not?
In Matthew 20:17-19 Jesus predicts the events of His betrayal through His crucifixion. He knew what was going to happen to Him and so should have His disciples because He told them. Why did the disciples not seem to understand Jesus when He spoke this way? Was it a case of their not having ears to hear? "He who has ears to hear let him hear." Jesus could not have been clearer about the manner of His death and the fact that He would rise from the dead.
Was our Lady as ignorant as the disciples when it came to understanding our Lord when He proclaimed His future betrayal, mockery, scourging and crucifixion? Did she fully understand what was to come? Mary heard the same things as the disciples did about our Lord's death and resurrection.
Our Lady was not in the garden. All the Apostles scattered except for John and Peter who followed Him. John went into the temple because he knew the high priest. Peter stayed out in the courtyard near the fire. None of Jesus' friends were close to Him after that until His eyes met the eyes of His mother. Mary was out in the crowd during the crowning with thorns. The whole crowd knew His crucifixion was inevitable at this point. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her heart. She could not be with Him. She couldn't give Him any comfort. But she could and did wait . . . to see if an opportunity would arise.
What does this mystery call us to think about? What is the difference between this world and the Kingdom of God? Read the Apocalypse 1:4-6 for a hint.
We are a kingdom of priests (with the appropriate distinctions between the ordained and non-ordained). We are partakers of the Divine nature. We have a royal role to play in the kingdom of God. (See Exodus 36) The original call to the people of Israel was to come out of Egypt and be purified - to go forth as a kingdom of priests - to go throughout the world to bring the kingdom to bear; but Israel failed miserably at Mount Sinai - Israel failed to be a faithful firstborn son of God collectively which resulted in the whole priestly system of Israel being established. One of the things that Christ restores in the New Covenant is the calling of us to be the true Israel bringing the kingdom of God to bear.
Jesus was perfect. Hebrews 2:10 makes it clear that He did not need to grow in perfection or in sinlessness. But as a human being He had to learn how to walk and pray. He also learned obedience - how it felt in His human flesh (crucifixion and death) to obey the will of the Father as a human being.
"And spitting upon Him, they took the reed and struck His head" (Matthew 27:30)
Now, they are spitting on Him. These Romans were a class act. We see here an extreme example of kicking a person when He is down and the powerful preying on the weak. This is another example of cowardice. Can anyone think of other examples of people treating people as something less than human and of the strong preying on the weak? How about employers who take advantage of their employees through lies, coercion and misuse of their power? How about the rich taking advantage of the poor? How about the way Nazi's treated the Jews? How about the way the white man in our country treated the slaves? How about husbands beating their wives? How about parents beating their children? How about parents killing or consenting to the murder of their own children whether they are inside or outside the womb? Yes, the strong preying on not only the weak, but the completely defenseless and completely innocent such as unborn children and our Lord Himself. We are a brave lot are we not?
Think of what we say in the Our Father Prayer (Pater Noster)""Thy Kingdom come." We ask to be part of this Kingdom and complying with God's plan of creation through the Sacrament of Matrimony in having babies is a wonderful powerful way to build the Kingdom. Marriage is a powerful way to learn obedience, to the marital vows, to God, to your husband sacrificing your selfish inclinations for the sake of your children for the sake of the Kingdom, "Thy will be done". We all have areas where we struggle with yielding our will to the Father. By the power of the Holy Ghost we can do His will. Jesus - the high priest - says these words in (Jn 15:18-19) as He is leading up to His prayer for unity in John 17. He knows how difficult it is to be a true follower of His, which is to keep His commands. Christ is on our side. Up to this point in our lives in this country there has not been much physical persecution against Christians.
But, oh has there been insidious persecution! We pay taxes to murder our children and children are expelled from schools because they say grace before meals and teachers are not to teach about Christmas and Easter and you never see a nativity scene in a shopping mall any more. Then there are the majority of people who call themselves Christian, who are nominal at best that want to take God out of the pledge of allegiance because they do not want to offend atheist students and so on. These people are not followers of Christ. They are followers of themselves, so I suppose we can liken them to a dog chasing his tail, which is a symbol of Satan. Those trapped by the moral relativism buy into the modernistic clap-trap that pervades the day with flimsy phrases we've all heard ad nauseum: "I'm okay, you're okay" "one religion is good as another", "what is okay for you may not be okay for me but it does not really matter." All of these false ologies are intended to condone man in his sin and abolish the natural law written in all of our hearts, and are intended to serve the idol of convenience.
Things seem to be changing a bit (the bad keeps getting worse with the new church and the world and the good continues to grow brick by brick in what is known as the "Traditional Movement" which is the Catholic Church because only there is the Cornerstone - Jesus Christ, Who is the King of this world. Persecution intensifies as satan grows more frantic in the time he has left to claim souls. Others have gone through tougher times than these in regards to physical persecution and so many today are too soft to stand up to the idolaters of today. We must remember always that God is in control, not our leaders. The Psalm 117: 8-9, "It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in man: It is good to trust in the Lord rather than to trust in princes" confirms this. The Kingdom of God is going to stand (Hebrews 12:28-29) - we are not of the world so believe me we're going to seem strange to the rest. If America continues to go down the path of the post-Christian era, true Catholics will appear to be even stranger than they already seem now.
One naturally asks, considering the current state of things how does Jesus establish His Kingdom? The U.S. is only 200 years old and you can see it crumbling already. The Kingdom Jesus was set up with Peter the "Cepha" (Aramaic - the language Jesus spoke for "rock" or Petros - the Greek male name of Petras as opposed to "lithos" which is Greek for small pebble), and its visible unifying head, prime-minister, pontiff under the King of Kings and over the other ministers of the country and the world has not been the short tenure of George Washington to George W. Bush, but rather from Peter through Pope Pius XII. Something like this would not be able to stand for 2000 years were it not a Divine Kingdom instituted by Christ the King.
For those in the mood for hearing something distinctly Catholic from one whose papacy is beyond any doubt read 2 Peter 1:3-11.
What can we do in the face of persecution? Fortify our souls through prayer, good works and especially the Sacraments. And if there be no sacraments? Pray, pray, and pray some more, and do what good you can if and when the opportunity arises.
"And they struck His head with a reed: and they did spit on Him. And bowing their knees, they adored Him (Mark 15:19).
Can you see the evilness of sin here? This is what sin does. This is what sin does to our soul - turns it into a bloody, spit-laden dying corpse. Sin is not pretty; this is what we do when we sin. What happened to Jesus that day was the result of all our sins up until that time and all the anticipated sins thereafter. We have a part in this cruelty; we are the reason Jesus took this suffering, cruelty, and viciousness upon Himself. Can we think twice now before we make fun of someone, gossip, take advantage of someone, and lie? Are these evil acts really so necessary? Our foolish pride: can you see what it does? The sins of the flesh: can you see what they do?
Our Lord is about to give His life for the world and at the top of His good friends; mind is who is the most important in the group (Mark 10:35-45). There is no shortcut. If we want to be glorified with Him we have to suffer. What is the message of the world - it is at complete odds with the Gospel. With God all things are possible (Romans 8:15-17).
In 1 Peter 3:13-17 and John 15:18-19 we see suffering for our belief in Christ for doing His will is good and necessary because His true believers will be at odds with the world. Preaching and evangelizing is what many, who pray regularly, are called to do. But bludgeoning people over the head with the truth in a way that lacks charity can cause suffering that is due to the impure motive of our actions. If our motive is just to win an argument for the sake of winning or just so we can look good in front of others then we are pushing our own agenda and not the Lord's. Persecution is beneficial when it is the result of our being faithful to the truth in charity; not when we are showing off or making a donkey of ourselves under the guise of defending the truth.
"(Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And he saith to them: Behold the Man" (John 19:5)
Here we have a Man who is mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, has drying blood and spit on His face with His hands tied behind His back. He allowed the skin to be ripped off His back during the scourging and is practically dead with loss of blood for what reason? What sort of kick do the people get out of doing this to our Lord or any man for that manner? Can you see the result of our fallen human nature here? But this is not something they cannot help doing.
I was thinking about how I have watched an occasional boxing match and enjoyed it. But if you think about it we are paying for violence. The boxers consent to be sure, so did Jesus, remember He laid down His life, we did not take it from Him, but this does not change the fact that violence is evil. If we pay to see a match we are consenting to it. I truly believe that this is one of the remaining barbaric sports in our country. It is big money so we will probably never do away with it but God gave us our bodies and the skulls and the heads boxers freely choose to allow to get pummeled. This is not using our bodies for Christ or for the salvation of others. Do these boxers have no other way to put food on the table or provide for their family? And those of us who watch, is there nothing better we have to do with our time? The same goes for other violent sports.
Then there is the other trash that we call entertainment which we pay to watch and allow our children to watch. De we really think this does not affect our mind or our actions in any way? Children are even more impressionable and affected by the soft porn "romance" TV and sleazy magazines (at the checkouts for all to see) in grocery stores that we are accosted by each and every day. And this is supposed to make us respect women? The women that pose in these suggestive manners are thought of as objects because that is the way that they present themselves. And those owners of the stores or those who make the decisions to place magazines with these scantily clad women where all can see, let alone buy and sell them are either stupid or evil. There is no way around it.
"When the chief priests, therefore, and the servants had seen Him, they cried out, saying: Crucify Him, Crucify Him. Pilate saith to them: Take Him you, and crucify Him: for I find no cause in Him" (John 19:6)
Have you ever done something nice for someone only to have it come back and slap you in the face? Have you ever felt unappreciated for all you do? Have you ever been falsely accused, misjudged and treated with contempt for no reason? You have a friend in Jesus, Who knows what it is like.
Augustine puts this all in perspective:
"'When the chief priests, therefore, and attendants saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify, crucify Him. Pilate saith unto them Take ye Him and crucify Him; for I find no fault in Him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by the law He ought to die because He made Himself the Son of God.' Behold another and still greater ground of hatred. The former, indeed, seemed but a small matter, as that shown towards the usurpation, by an unlawful act of daring, of the royal power; and yet of neither did Jesus falsely claim possession, but each of them is truly His as both the only-begotten Son of God, and by Him appointed King upon His holy hill of Zion; and both might He now have shown to be His, were it not that in proportion to the greatness of His power, He preferred to manifest the corresponding greatness of His patience.
The fruit of the third sorrowful mystery is humility because this virtue is the opposite of the vice of pride. The crowning of thorns on the head of our Savior is endured due to our pride; for the mind in our head tends to think of ourselves in an inordinately prideful manner. Our Lord submits to the humiliation of being crowned with thorns and the mockery that went along with it to atone for the sine of pride.
Pride is what makes us think we are more important than anybody or anything else. Pride is what makes us think that our wants and our needs hold more precedence than anybody else's wants or needs. Pride is what says "me first" instead of "after you". Pride is what makes us vain because of our value of human opinion. Pride is what justifies in our minds the treating of others poorly if it be to our perceived gain. Pride leads to a multitude of evil and we pierced our Savior's skull with it.
Pride is what led Satan to believe he is equal with God or at least certainly should not worship Him and pride "so we can become like God" resulted in the fall of mankind. Humility is the adversary of pride.
Saint Augustine shows how this can take root, just as "it depends on what 'is' is" gobblygook has been used to rationalize wrong:
"For 'the chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified.' For he would have every appearance of acting against Caesar if, on their declaration that they had no king but Caesar, he were wishing to impose on them another king by releasing without punishment One Whom for these very attempts they had delivered unto him to be put to death. 'Therefore he delivered Him unto them to be crucified.' But was it, then, anything different that he had previously desired when he said, 'Take ye Him, and crucify Him;' or even earlier still, "Take ye him, and judge him according to your law?" And why did they show so great reluctance, when they said, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death," and were in every way urgent to have Him slain not by themselves, but by the governor, and therefore refused to receive Him for the purpose of putting Him to death, if now for the same purpose they actually do receive Him? Or if such be not the case, why was it said, 'Then delivered he Him therefore unto them to be crucified?' Or is it of any importance? Plainly it is. For it was not said, 'Then delivered he Him therefore unto them' that they might crucify Him, but 'that He might be crucified,' that is, that He might be crucified by the judicial sentence and power of the governor. But it is for this reason that the evangelist has said that He was delivered to them, that he might show that they were implicated in the crime from which they tried to hold themselves aloof; for Pilate would have done no such thing, save to implement what he perceived to be their fixed desire. The words, however, that follow, 'And they took Jesus, and led Him away,' may now refer to the soldiers, the attendants of the governor. For it is more clearly stated afterwards, 'When the soldiers therefore had crucified Him,' although the evangelist properly does so even when he attributes the whole to the Jews, for they it was that received what they had with the utmost greediness demanded, and they it was that did all that they compelled to be done. But the events that follow must be made the subject of consideration in another discourse."
As we grow closer to Holy Week, I will focus on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery in my next meditation. As we leave our dear tortured Lord before Pilate and a frenzied mob, let us keep that image of abject Humility in our minds, hearts and souls so that whenever we are tempted by pride we can look to the bloody, scarred and dissheveled, pierced Savior of the world and realize it took Humility. Do we have it in us to stand with Him and not be afraid or ashamed? Pray that you do. May you continue to have a grace-filled Lent as we all journey with Him to Calvary in heart and soul. John Gregory
"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH" Saint Athanasius, "Apostle of Tradition" AD 373
Meditation on the Crowning with Thorns