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Saturday, August 11, 2007

The crown of thorns

Musing on this third sorrowful mystery of the holy rosary usually brings to mind the bewildering inversion that Christ embraced: that the king of kings should be treated with the utmost contempt. Tonight the musing gave way to real horror. Those thorns! These were not shallow cuts, since the soldiers actually hammered the thorns in with blows. How could the Lord have stayed silent for that? Like a lamb led to slaughter -- I cannot imagine how I could have withstood such treatment. This is particularly difficult for the Son of God to endure because he was completely innocent and he had complete power over the situation had he chosen it. Scores of angels would have fought for him at his call, and those heartless soldiers would have perished horribly. What kept the Lord on his seat, enduring the humiliation and pain?

What love he must have in his sacred heart, which made such treatment acceptable to him who had his marching orders from the Father above and saw the desired end: the redemption of wayward children. St. Josemaria Escriva wrote in the Holy Rosary that the torture meant for our flesh was received willingly by Christ for love of us. He did the heavy lifting. He took on the eternal and impossibly horrible punishment for us. Expiation in his blood for us. What is left for us then? The free will on our part to seek mercy and forgiveness. That which the expiation does not take away is the necessity of contrition -- already assisted by the Holy Spirit's constant call to repentance -- that which must be ours. Not because our contrition in any way makes amends, but in our onward journey full of scenes of contrition, the Holy Spirit shapes us into sanctified children of God.

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