REFLECTIONS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
As the soldiers, however, perseveringly continued their scourging of the innocent Lamb, it is related that one of those who were standing by came forward, and, taking courage, said to them: You have no orders to kill this man as you are trying to do. And, saying this, he cut the cords wherewith the Lord was standing bound. This was revealed to St. Bridget: “Then a certain man, his spirit being moved within him, demanded: Are you going to kill Him in this manner, uncondemned? And forthwith he cut His bonds.” But hardly was the scourging ended, than those barbarous men, urged on and bribed by the Jews with money (as St. John Chrysostom avers), inflict upon the Redeemer a fresh kind of torture: Then the soldiers of the governor taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together the whole band, and stripping him, they put a scarlet cloak about him, and plaiting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand. (Matt. xxvii. 27-30). Behold how the soldiers strip Him again; and, treating Him as a mock king, place upon Him a purple garment, which was nothing else but a ragged cloak, one of those that were worn by the Roman soldiers, and called a chlamys; in His hand they place a reed to represent a sceptre, and upon His head a bundle of thorns to represent a crown.
Ah, my Jesus, and art not Thou, then, true King of the universe? And how is it that Thou art now become King of sorrow and reproach? See whither love has brought Thee! O my most lovely God, when will that day arrive whereon I may so unite myself to Thee, that nothing may ever more have power to separate me from Thee, and I may no longer be able to cease from loving Thee! O Lord, as long as I live in this world, I always stand in danger of turning my back upon Thee, and of refusing to Thee my love, as I have unhappily done in time past. O my Jesus, if Thou foreseest that by continuing in life I should have to suffer this greatest of all misfortunes, let me die at this moment, while I hope that I am in Thy grace! I pray Thee, by Thy Passion, not to abandon me to so great an evil. I truly, indeed, deserve it for my sins; but Thou dost deserve it not. Choose out any punishment for me rather than this. No, my Jesus, my Jesus, I would not see myself ever again separated from Thee.
And plaiting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head. (Matt. xxvii. 29). It was a good reflection of the devout Lanspergius, that this torture of the crown of thorns was one most full of pain; inasmuch as they everywhere pierced into the Sacred Head of the Lord, the most sensitive part, it being from the head that all the nerves and sensations of the body diverge; while it was also that torture of His Passion which lasted the longest, as Jesus suffered from the thorns up to His death, remaining as they did, fixed in His Head. Every time that the thorns on His Head were touched, the anguish was renewed afresh. And the common opinion of authors agrees with that of St. Vincent Ferrer, that the crown was intertwined with several branches of thorns, and fashioned like a helmet or hat, so that it fitted upon the whole of the head, down to the middle of the forehead; according to the revelation made to St. Bridget: “The crown of thorns embraced His Head most tightly, and came down as low as the middle of the forehead.”
O Divine Love, exclaims Salvian, I know not how to call Thee, whether sweet or cruel; seeming, as Thou dost, to have been at one and the same time both sweet and cruel too: “O Love, what to call Thee I know not, sweet or cruel! Thou seemest to be both.” Ah, my Jesus, true, indeed, it is that love makes Thee sweet, as regards us, showing Thee forth to us as so passionate a lover of our souls; but it makes Thee pitiless towards Thyself, causing Thee to suffer such bitter torments. Thou wast willing to be crowned with thorns to obtain for us a crown of glory in Heaven: “He was crowned with thorns, that we may be crowned with the crown that is to be given to the elect in Heaven.” O my sweetest Saviour, I hope to be Thy crown in Paradise, obtaining my salvation through the merits of Thy sufferings; there will I forever praise Thy love and Thy mercies: “The mercies of the Lord will I for ever sing; yea, I will sing them for ever.”