Lent Reflection – Part 4 of 6
BY: Mr. Mark Connolly, OP
I suppose the easiest reflection to pull out of this mystery is the fact that the Roman soldiers were actually crowning Christ the King. We could spend a lot of pious time examining the irony. But, while in the first two mysteries we looked at Christ’s humanity, in this reflection I suggest we take an uncomfortable look at man’s inhumanity.
It was common for the Roman soldiers to humiliate the condemned. They would often pick out a victim from among those sentenced to death and mock and abuse them. Think about the psychology here. No compassion, no empathy. They’re going to die anyway, so you can exercise your petty need for violence, your need for a sense of superiority, comfortable in the firm knowledge there will be no consequences for your actions. And perhaps that inner voice encouraging, “They deserve this.”
Think next about public executions in general, about how hangings were attended by men, women, and children; about how it was a social event, an afternoon’s entertainment with death the main attraction. The crowd dispersing, nodding and commenting to each other, “He got what he deserved.”
Think about the horrific reality of lynching, a sordid thread woven into the tapestry of our country. Think about the jeering and mocking, the spitting and hitting, the deliberate and heightened animosity.
Yeah, but those were other people in other times. Surely we have grown beyond this.
But it is deeper and more insidious. Look at the Roman soldiers jeering at the helpless victim, and think about how many times we have seen someone that is helpless, scared, “not cool”, other, weird, a dork, being humiliated by a mob of people. Perhaps that someone was us.
Or perhaps we were in the crowd.
No way, you say?
Think about the idea of “mean girls” or the bullying by adolescents. The emotional violence on social media, the mob mentality of cancel culture; notice and ponder the figurative spitting and buffeting, jeering and smug self-satisfaction while participating in ruining someone’s life. Perhaps that inner thought, “They deserve this.”
Think now on the mockery of Crowning Christ the King.
Is it not mockery to go to Church, receive our Lord, hail him as king, leave church and continue in our small meannesses and our larger sins? And how many times have we mocked Christ the King only minutes or hours after leaving the confessional? Sing or shout or pray “Hail, King of the Jews,” from one side of our mouth while spitting out the other?
Why this short and ugly meditation? Because it is too easy to look at what the Romans did to Jesus and think, “They, not I.”
We are the Romans.
Ponder this deeply for such pondering has resulted in many saints.
Next: Jesus Carries The Cross