REFLECTIONS AND AFFECTIONS ON THE PASSION OF JESUS CHRIST
As St. Laurence Justinian says, with St. Peter Damian, the thorns were so long that they penetrated even to the brain: “The thorns perforating the brain.” While the gentle Lamb let Himself be tormented according to their will, without speaking a word, without crying out, but closely compressing His eyes through the anguish, He frequently breathed forth, at that time, bitter sighs, as is the wont of one undergoing a torture which has brought him to the point of death, according as was revealed to the Blessed Agatha of the Cross: “He very often closed His eyes, and uttered piercing sighs, like those of one about to die.” So great was the quantity of the Blood which flowed from the Wounds upon His Sacred Head, that upon His Face there was no appearance of any other colour save that of blood, according to the revelation of St. Bridget: “So many streams of Blood rushing down over His Face, and filling His hair, and eyes, and beard, He seemed to be nothing but one mass of Blood.” And St. Bonaventure adds that the beautiful Face of the Lord was no longer seen, but it appeared rather the face of a man who had been scarified: “Then might be seen no longer the Face of the Lord Jesus, but that of a man who had undergone excoriation.”
Ah, cruel Thorns, ungrateful creatures, wherefore do ye torment your Creator thus? But to what purpose, asks St. Augustine, dost thou find fault with the thorns? They were but innocent instruments–our sins, our evil thoughts, were the wicked thorns which afflicted the head of Jesus Christ: “What are the thorns but sinners?” Jesus having one day appeared to St. Teresa crowned with thorns, the Saint began to compassionate Him; but the Lord made answer to her: “Teresa, compassionate Me not on account of the Wounds which the thorns of the Jews have produced; but commiserate Me on account of the wounds which the sins of Christians occasion Me.”
Therefore, O my soul, thou also didst then inflict torture upon the venerable Head of thy Redeemer by thy many consentings to evil: Know thou and behold how grievous and bitter it is for thee to have left the Lord thy God. (Jer. ii. 19). Open now thine eyes, and see, and bitterly bewail all thy life long the great evil thou hast done in so ungratefully turning thy back upon thy Lord and God. Ah, my Jesus! no, Thou hast not deserved that I should have treated Thee as I have done. I have done evil; I have been in the wrong: I am sorry for it with all my heart. Oh, pardon me, and give me a sorrow which may make me bewail all my life long the wrongs that I have done Thee. My Jesus, my Jesus, pardon me, wishing, as I do, to love Thee for ever.
And bowing the knee before him, they derided him, saying: Hail, King of the Jews! And spitting upon him, they took the reed, and struck his head. (Matt. xxvii. 29. 30). St. John adds: And they gave him blows. (John xix. 3). When those barbarians had placed upon the head of Jesus that crown of torture, it was not enough for them to press it down as forcibly as they could with their hands, but they took a reed to answer the purpose of a hammer, that so they might make the thorns penetrate the more deeply. They then began to turn Him into derision, as if He were a mock king; first of all saluting Him on their bended knee as King of the Jews; and then, rising up, they spit into His Face, and buffet Him with shouts and jests of scorn. Ah, my Jesus, to what art Thou reduced! Had anyone happened by chance to pass that place and seen Jesus Christ so drained of Blood, clad in that ragged purple garment, with that sceptre in His hand, with that crown upon His head, and so derided and ill-treated by the low rabble, what would he ever have taken Him to be but the vilest and most wicked man in the world! Behold the Son of God become at that time the disgrace of Jerusalem! O men, hereupon exclaims Blessed Denis the Carthusian, if we will not love Jesus Christ because He is good, because He is God, let us love Him at least for the many pains which He has suffered for us: “If we love Him not because He is good, because He is God, let us at least love Him because He has suffered so many things for our salvation.”
Ah, my dear Redeemer, take back a rebellious servant who has run away from Thee, but who now returns to Thee in penitence. While I was fleeing from Thee and despising Thy love, Thou didst not cease from following after me to draw me back to Thyself; and therefore I cannot fear that Thou wilt drive me away now that I seek Thee, value Thee, and love Thee above everything. Make known to me what I have to do to please Thee; wishing, as I do, to do it all. O my most lovely God, I wish to love Thee in earnest; and I desire to give Thee no more displeasure. Aid me with Thy grace. Let me not leave Thee more. Mary, my hope, pray to Jesus for me. Amen.