Friday, February 25, 2005

MH - Meditations for the Third Friday in Lent

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crown of Thorns
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.
-Matthew 27:27-31

Last week we examined how our sins contributed to Jesus' pain during His scourging. This week we think of how our sins mock Jesus.

At first glance we may think ourselves innocent of this charge. Do we run around actually making fun of Our Lord? Nonsense! Why, I go to church every Sunday. I say my prayers at night. I give to the poor. Isn't that what it's all about?

Well, perhaps we don't mock Him in the same way as do others in this culture. I think, for example of the wizards behind the NBC sitcom Committed (more on this in a future post). But let's think about things a little more closely, we who call ourselves Christians. Remember the last time you shared gossip with others? Ridiculed someone - either to their face or in front of your friends? Looked down on someone, treated them with scorn, sinned against charity - perhaps even while you were on the way to church? Maybe we even thank God that we're not like that poor sinner over there.

Don't we realize that every time we do this we mock Christ? We, who profess to be belivers, apostles, followers - and then turn around and do exactly the opposite of what He teaches. Think of the cheating spouse who sings in the choir on Sunday, the church-going businessman who juggles the books to avoid paying taxes, the zealots in Northern Ireland who kill and terrorize in the name of religion. Is that what Jesus taught us to do?

I don't know about you, but to me these sins - pride, arrogance, uncharity, religious hatred - seem to be special kinds of sins. At the very least they are sins of presumption, of taking God's forgivenes for granted. They scandalize those who look to us as exemplars of Christian behavior. They are, in short, a satire, a mockery, of what it is Christ preached, what He died for, what He taught us to believe. When we are guilty of this type of behavior, we are also guilty of laughing at Our Lord, every bit as much as the soldiers did.

Of course, these are also signs of fallen humanity, and thus they're traps that most of us fall into one way or another. Let us pray to Christ and to His Blessed Mother for purity, humility, and the grace of a faithful spirit, that we may truly become followers in His footsteps, and in His Mother's footsteps, and not the footsteps of the Romans who knelt before Him and cried, "Hail, King of the Jews!"

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