MARCH 28, 2021

I think the many characters and details contained in the story of Jesus’ Passion are deliberate:
the Holy Spirit wanted to give us many entry points to this history-changing story. We can see ourselves, and our culture, through the many mirrors the Passion presents to our consciences.

One detail seems particularly telling; I have thought about it more and more over the years. The soldiers, while mocking Jesus, make a crown of thorns and put it on his head. Then, the next sentence tells us, they kept hitting him on the head. Nothing seems to have caught the deliberate cruelty and meanness of the human heart more than this detail. This was done to inflict a particular kind of pain, one unique to Jesus.

Every day the news brings to us stories that have cruelty and meanness at their heart, whether an attack on human bodies as we keep hearing in so many domestic massacres; or an attack on human dignity as our public discourse sinks lower and lower. All of this, just as the incident of Jesus mockery, shows one point: that some people feel their own esteem can only be earned with the pain of someone else: “I feel powerful by hurting you.”

Jesus accepts this mockery, along with the whole outrage of his assassination, to show the emptiness of this esteem and the weakness of this quest for power. In his meekness, Jesus shows us the true power of emptying human cruelty by giving oneself as a sign of divine love. What the prophets hinted at when reflecting on the suffering of the Jews Jesus now reveals in the gift of himself. True power comes with sacrificial love.

What about each of us?
Where am I in this Passion story?
Where do I find my power?
How do I resort to cruelty just for cruelty’s sake?
Or am I ready to be at the side of Jesus and renounce human smallness for the sake of a better, a saving, vision?

Questions for reflection:

 How do I receive the gifts God has given me?

 How do those gifts change me?

Fr. Frank DeSiano, CSP