A Meditation and Examination
1) As our Savior is cruelly crowned with thorns, He suffers intense physical pain. Already worn out by the scourging, He now receives excruciating wounds upon His Sacred Head. More painful still is all the internal, spiritual suffering He is called to endure. How aware am I that my suffering, both physical and spiritual, embraced and offered in union with the sufferings of Jesus, can bear great fruit and can help make my heart more like His?
2) The Lord Jesus, who would not accept being made a worldly king by those who admired Him (see John 6:15), now willingly welcomes this painful crown. He did not seek adulation or honors from other people, but sought solely to please His Father in Heaven. Do we have expectations that if Jesus lives and reigns in us, this will mean that we will be thought well of by others and admired by them?
3) So many angry words are flung at our great Redeemer throughout His Passion. He maintains a deep peace through it all, though, responding only and always with mercy and love. When angry words are said to or against me, do I return them with words of love and mercy, or ones of anger and revenge?
4) Jesus is the True King, and none of the insults and mockery hurled at Him can change this. How confident am I in my identity as a beloved child of God? Does my self-image change based on how other people treat me?
5) During the public life of Christ, the apostles at times sought prominent positions in His Kingdom. Our Lord tried patiently to teach them, to reveal to them that they still had a too-worldly view of things. Here His true crown—completely opposite of what the disciples had envisioned—is starkly made known. Am I willing to exchange my worldly view of things, so as to view things from heaven’s perspective?
6) Jesus could have called upon twelve legions of angels to assist Him, but He chose not to (see Matthew 26:53). Do I anxiously, and by any means, try to get out of painful or humiliating situations . . . growing bitter if this does not occur right away? Or do I peacefully accept these “thorns” for love of God, trusting in His all-sufficient grace?
7) Truly, Jesus is King. How often, though, do I treat Him as my slave? How frequently do I expect Him to do what I want, so that my will may be done?
8) If our Lord offered me either a crown of gold or a crown of thorns as He did St. Catherine of Sienna, in truth, which one would I choose? My decision is made manifest in my attitude towards others. Do I tend to dominate and rule over others, or to serve them with unselfish and sacrificial love?
9) Although we often see images of the Blessed Mother’s Heart crowned with roses, her Heart is indeed also pierced with thorns, even as her Son’s Head is subject to this mock coronation. The Queen of Martyr’s restraint, though, is such that she seeks to keep her pain concealed. Even when I am suffering great interior agony, do I cooperate with God’s grace and strive to offer a pleasing smile to God and others?
10) Thorns were part of the original curse laid upon the human race after the sin of our first parents (see Genesis 3:18). As Jesus, the New Adam, takes this curse upon Himself, He is renewing the whole earth and making for us—and of us—a new creation. Do I give Jesus full freedom and explicit permission to make me into the person and servant He desires me to be?
By Fr. Francis of the Redeemer, OSIHJM