THE IGNOMINIES JESUS SUFFERED IN HIS PASSION
The greatest ignominies Jesus had to suffer were those of His Passion. In the first place He then had to see Himself abandoned by His beloved disciples. One of them betrayed Him, another denied Him, and when He was captured in the Garden, all fled and abandoned Him: Then his disciples leaving him, all fled away (Mark, xiv. 50). Afterwards the Jews presented Him to Pilate as a malefactor who deserved to be crucified. If, said they, he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee (Jo. xviii. 30). Herod treated him as a fool: Herod, says St. Luke, with his army, set him at nought and mocked him, putting on him a white garment (Luke xxiii. 11).
Barabbas, a robber and murderer, was preferred before Him. When Pilate gave the Jews the choice of rescuing Jesus Christ or Barabbas from death, they exclaimed, Not this man, but Barabbas (Jo. xviii. 40). He was chastised with the lash, a punishment inflicted only on slaves: Then, therefore, says St. John, Pilate took Jesus and scourged him (Jo. xix. 1). He was treated as a mock king; for after having through mockery crowned Him with thorns, they saluted Him as king and spat in His face: They mocked him, saying: Hail, King of the Jews. And spitting upon him, they took the reed, and struck his head (Matt. xxvii. 29, 30). He was afterwards, as Isaias had foretold, condemned to die between two malefactors: He was reputed with the wicked (Is. liii. 12).
Finally, Jesus died on a Cross. That is the most opprobrious death which was then inflicted on malefactors, for the man whom the Jews condemned to the death of the cross was, as we read in Deuteronomy, said to be an object of malediction to God and man. Hence St. Paul has said, Being made a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (Gal. iii. 13). Our Redeemer, says the same Apostle, renouncing the life of splendour and happiness which He might have enjoyed on earth, chose for Himself a life of tribulations, and a death accompanied with so much shame: Who, having joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb. xii. 2).
Thus in Jesus Christ was fulfilled the prediction of Jeremias, that He should live and die saturated with opprobrium. He shall give his cheek to him that striketh him, he shall be filled with reproaches (Lam. iii. 30). Hence, St. Bernard exclaims: O grandeur! O abasement! Behold the Lord, Who is exalted above all, become now the most contemptible of all! And all this proceeded from the love which Jesus Christ bore to us.
O my Jesus, save me; do not permit me, after being redeemed by Thee with so much pain and so much love, to lose my soul and go to hell, there to hate and curse the very love Thou hast borne me. This hell I have indeed so often deserved; for, though Thou couldst do nothing more than Thou hast done to oblige me to love Thee, I have done everything in my power to compel Thee to chastise me. But since, in Thy goodness, Thou hast waited for me, and even still dost continue to ask me to love Thee, I wish to love Thee: I wish henceforth to love Thee with my whole heart and without reserve. Give me strength to carry out this wish, O Mary, Mother of God, assist me by thy prayers.