Sunday, October 21, 2007

3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The crowning with thorns (a servant)

My wife is not going to be happy when she sees me. I have torn my tunic and, with a new baby in the house and several small children, she does not have time to do unnecessary mending on my behalf. It would be different if we could afford to have a couple of servants, or even slaves, but I am a poor man and cannot afford to feed an extra mouth on the pittance I receive from Pilate. In any case, how often does a servant have a servant? Not very often if, like me, he has a hand-to-mouth existence.

I try not to make extra work for my wife. I love her, which is unusual in most marriages these days. They are civil contracts made for convenience and for uniting families rather than hearts. Still, ours was a love match and still is. I am sorry that she must work so hard to look after our home and family. I am sorry that I seem unable to compensate her in some way.

Now, I have a torn tunic that she must mend. I did not intend to be careless, but one of the soldiers sent me to collect a bundle of thorns. He had the strange idea that, since the man whom they were flogging was known as ‘the King of the Jews’, he would crown him. He thought of the thorn bush growing outside the courtyard in the garden where Pilate likes to meet some of his cronies, and, since Pilate was otherwise engaged at the time, the soldier sent me to do some untimely pruning of the thorns.

It was not a large bush, nor a significant one. However it was native to this area and known for its long thorns, an ideal deterrent to grazing sheep and goats. The pliability of the twigs made them perfect, if that is the word to use for such a terrible deed, for entwining into a crown. It was fearsome. It was difficult to cut the twigs and even more so to weave the crown. That is how I tore my tunic. I also tore my thumb, but that will heal in its own time, although the blood on the tunic will just add insult to injury as far as my wife is concerned.

I had hoped that the soldier would have changed his mind when I returned. Some hope! He called me to his side and berated me for taking so long to execute his orders. It was alright for him. He had not dealt with the thorn bush! Neither did he take hold of the crown of thorns.

The soldier took one look at the crown and ordered me to place it on the head of the man they had just finished scourging. I saw the look of mortal fear in his eyes as I approached. It is something I shall never forget. I tried to balance it lightly so that he would not be injured any further, but the bloodlust of the soldiers had not been slaked. I had miscalculated the depths of their cruelty. Abused themselves, they showed little mercy towards prisoners. They used the butts of their whips to force the crown of thorns deeply onto the head of their victim. He cried out in pain. Tears of blood coursed their way down his head and face. I turned away, sickened.

Now I must return to my wife and offer her my torn tunic, but, really, it is my heart that is torn. I will never forget the sight of the fear in that man’s eyes. Although unwilling, I participated in the bestiality of the soldiers. Am I as guilty as they?

God bless,
Sr. Janet