Skip to comments.Reflections for Wednesday in Holy Week: The Crowning of Thorns
Posted on 03/23/2005 7:40:28 PM PST by murphE
Five Days of Sorrow: Third Sorrowful Mystery Reflections for Wednesday in Holy Week: The Crowning of Thorns "Behold (ecce), then, the man (homo) standing before you, in royal robes and with a thorny crown. He is your king, and you are called to imitate His life and His death, so that you may also imitate His resurrection and share in His glory. Do not be ashamed of the thorns, for they will soon be burned away by fire, and only gold will remain. Consider also St. Paul, who asked that the thorn be removed from his side, for Our Lord gave him the answer that He gives to us when we seek to avoid suffering: 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity' (2 Cor. 12:9). So let it be for us."
Wednesday in Holy Week
March 23, 2005
vol 16, no. 82
Five Days of Sorrow: Third Sorrowful Mystery
Reflections for Wednesday in Holy Week: The Crowning of Thorns
"Behold (ecce), then, the man (homo) standing before you, in royal robes and with a thorny crown. He is your king, and you are called to imitate His life and His death, so that you may also imitate His resurrection and share in His glory. Do not be ashamed of the thorns, for they will soon be burned away by fire, and only gold will remain. Consider also St. Paul, who asked that the thorn be removed from his side, for Our Lord gave him the answer that He gives to us when we seek to avoid suffering: 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity' (2 Cor. 12:9). So let it be for us."
And stripping Him, they put a scarlet cloak about Him ... And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head: and they put on Him a purple garment ... 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 ... Pilate therefore went forth again and saith to them: Behold, I bring him forth unto you, that you may know that I find no cause in Him. (Jesus therefore came forth, bearing the crown of thorns and the purple garment.) And he saith to them: Behold the Man ... 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. (Composite of Matthew 27:28-31 & John 19:2-5).
Our Lord, having been scourged so mercilessly that the Prophet Isaias was compelled to say (in some modern translations) "many were astonished at Him, His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance" (Is. 52:14, RSV), is now led by His tormenters to be tortured yet further. We read in the Gospels that the soldiers, insatiable in their lust for blood, wove a crown of thorns together and embedded it into Our Lord's sacred skull.
Not only this, but they also then dressed Him in a purple garment (which no doubt caused many sharp pains on the freshly scourged and torn skin), and proceeded to beat Him with the reed. As if the sharp thorns piercing into His skull and brow did not cause enough pain, His tormenters saw the need to strike Him on the crown with a stick, thus driving the thorns in deeper and deeper. It is a wonder Our Lord survived this - most men would have died from the blood loss, or at least gone into shock.
We have been borrowing from the medical expertise of Dr. Barbet (as recorded in his marvelous work, A Doctor at Calvary), and we turn to him again now for a description of the crowning:
Contrary to our more prevalent forms of art (sculptures and paintings) which depict the crown of thorns as a sort of head-band that only encircled the brow of Our Lord, Dr. Barbet indicates that it was actually a kind of thorny helmet which would have covered the entire scalp and brow. This should fill us with still more pity for Our Lord, knowing the suffering He endured!
Dr. Barbet continues his description:
It is generally admitted that they [the thorns] belong to a thorn-bearing tree which is common in Judea, the Zizyphus spina Christi, a kind of lote-tree. It is probable that there was a heap of its branches in the praetorium, used for firing by the Roman cohort. Its thorns are very long and sharp. The scalp bleeds very easily and very vigorously, and as this cap was driven against the head by blows with a stick, the wounds must have caused much loss of blood." (Barbet, pg. 85)
This brings to mind an experience I had as a young child of about 9 or 10. I was climbing on the top of my new bunk bed, and accidentally fell off, cracking the back of my head against the corner of the bedroom door. Dr. Barbet is not exaggerating when he says the scalp "bleeds very easily and very vigorously!"
Barbet continues with a description of how the thorny crown would have added an extra dimension of suffering during the actual crucifixion:
"Now, let us have a look at the shroud ... on the back portion [of the head], one can see flows of blood the whole way up the head, each one coming down from the wound made by a thorn and following irregular courses. They all stop at a rather concave line fairly high up, which must mark the place where the band of rushes was drawn tightly against the nape of the neck.
It is behind the head that most blood is accumulated. There is nothing surprising in this, since, during the whole time that Our Lord was on the cross, that was where the crown would come into contact with the [wood of the cross] each time He drew back His head and the thorns would be driven yet a little further into the scalp." (Barbet, pg. 85-86)
After the cruel crowning, the beatings on Our Lord's head, and the spitting on His sacred face amidst much mocking, Our Lord was brought before Pilate once more. It is here, in showing Our Lord's broken, beaten, radically marred face and body to the blood-thirsty crowd, that Pontius Pilate proclaims his famous words: "Ecce homo!"
The words of Pilate ring in our ears, calling us to open our eyes and "look upon [Him], Whom they have pierced," and to "mourn for Him as one mourneth for an only son ... as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn" (Zach. 12:10). Behold the man, behold your king! His appearance is like a king's, in that He is dressed in royal purple, and He wears a king's crown, yet this is a mock kingship. He is already bruised and bleeding, with the thorns piercing His head. Can this be our king?
Yes, for the Son of God will reverse all of the curses of sin, including "cursed is the earth in thy work: with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee" (Gen. 3:18-19). The curse of sweat has been reversed by the Son's agony in the Garden, and now, the curse of thorns is also redeemed by a bloody crown of thorns. Do you see the determination of Our Lord to destroy sin at it's very roots?
Must we follow in His footsteps even in this suffering, as we did with the scourging? Yes, we must, for at the final day of judgment, we will trade our crown of thorns for real crowns - but pity the one who has no thorn of crowns to offer, for no Heavenly crown will be given to him. If we bear the thorns now, we will surely be rewarded with many crowns in Heaven, as the Holy Apostles and the Lord Himself have said: "And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. And they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible one" (1 Cor. 9:25), "there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming" (2 Tim. 4:8), "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for, when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which God hath promised to them that love him" (Jas. 1:12), "And when the prince of pastors shall appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory" (1 Pet. 5:4), and finally, "Be thou faithful unto death: and I will give thee the crown of life" (Apoc. 2:10).
See all the many crowns that are waiting for the faithful members of Christ's Body, crowns of righteousness, life, and glory! Did not Our Lord receive a crown upon His ascension? (Apoc. 14:14) And did not Our Lady receive a crown upon her entrance into the Heavenly kingdom? (Apoc. 12:1) Then carry on in your work, and be patient in your suffering, knowing that as surely as God was faithful to His Son and to the Blessed Mother, so will He do with you, and reward your good deeds (Apoc. 14:13; Heb. 6:10; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:24; Apoc. 22:12).
Behold (ecce), then, the man (homo) standing before you, in royal robes and with a thorny crown. He is your king, and you are called to imitate His life and His death, so that you may also imitate His resurrection and share in His glory. Do not be ashamed of the thorns, for they will soon be burned away by fire, and only gold will remain. Consider also St. Paul, who asked that the thorn be removed from his side, for Our Lord gave him the answer that He gives to us when we seek to avoid suffering: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity" (2 Cor. 12:9). So let it be for us.
We end this meditation then, by seeing Our Lord dragged off to His crucifixion. Let us linger here for a moment (we will follow Him very soon), stooping to pick a broken and blood-stained thorn from the ground. It was broken off and fell to the ground while the soldiers were beating His head with the reed ... kiss it devoutly, and pray:
Reading the first few paragraphs I'm struck by how the Passion is being played out in our world during Holy Week. The government Pontius Pilates washing their hands of the blood of an innocent Terri Schindler, the bloodthirsty crowds(some on FR who claim to be Christians) demanding her death, and the bystanders who try to comfort her with a towel or a drink to ease her suffering.
This isn't good murph. It isn't good at all.
Thank you, these are beautiful.
Agree with you all the way. What is happening to Terri, I'm afraid is just a foretaste of persecutions and deaths that are to come.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
I agree with you too. And if they think the hurricane season was bad last year in Florida...
**And if they think the hurricane season was bad last year in Florida...**
There's a couple unpopular things I'm wondering, though.
How many situations go unnoticed because they aren't picked up by the media, and consequently, how many souls go un-prayed for. As much limelight as the case may deserve, how many predicaments are people in all around the globe from minute to minute which have as much intrinsic urgency as this?
My hope is slightly different than others, perhaps. Looking to the fact that she doesn't seem likely to get out of this alive, I'm hoping that she has the grace to suffer well. I'm hoping that that suffering, in turn, in union with Christ's, would be effecacious for other souls. I'm hoping that with whatever awareness she has in her, that she lay down herself for her others and for their salvation.
It's a very different war than the casual observers witness, really. The real war will always be for the salvation of souls, and the real sufferings are always ordered to that end, in immitation of Christ. As heinous a crime as what she is being forced to endure, that crime could be quite lucrative if she is well disposed towards the grace to suffer well.
Maybe we should pray for that... that she knowingly and willingly suffers well and perseveres.
After all, most everyone flees from the Cross, but, at the same time, the Cross is necessary, and if they ultimately are to follow Christ, the Cross will revisit them before the end. Each one who will be successful, who will triumph, will not avoid it, ultimately. St. John didn't have a Cross like others because he'd handled his in advance, standing with Christ to the end. The other apostles who fled... they all got their Cross in the end, which was a Mercy forced upon them.
No one who makes it can avoid it though, ultimately.
I pray she suffers well, and that souls are converted as a result. In the ultimate economy, she'll corner the market.
Funny you should mention that. Recently I've added an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to my nightly prayers for the intention of "the soul on earth who needs it most" and then I do the same thing for "the soul in purgatory who needs it most".
If you did nothing else in life, you'd be successful.
I am reading the Yves Dupont book 'Catholic Prophecy'. Everything is falling into place. I was a little afraid last night but today I am mostly sad.
St. Columba (6th century). "Hearken, hearken to what will happen in the latter days of the world! There will be great wars; unjust laws will be enacted; the Church will be despoiled of her property; people will read and write a great deal; but charity and humility will be laughed to scorn, and the common people will believe in false ideas."
St. Methodius. "A day will come when the enemies of Christ will boast of having conquered the whole world. They will say: 'Christians cannot escape now!' But a Great King will arise to fight the enemies of God. He will defeat them, and peace will be given to the world, and the Church will be freed from her anxieties."
I've only scanned the book so far. I can't find many references to the US except that we will send troops to save Europe and the Pope will flee overseas.
Terri has suffered so much already. I don't know why some souls undergo severe trials while others are spared. I found myself praying God would take away her pain and take her quickly if she had to die.
I don't know if that is right to do or not.
If I am having a bad day I will offer my sufferings towards the most needy soul in purgatory. It helps give some purpose to what I can't understand.
I'm sorry that you are having a bad day. = (