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S.P. 42: "Borromeo" Liturgy of the Hours miniated by Cristoforo de Predis, Cent. XV
Ambrosian Library

Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns

V/. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R/. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Luke. 22:63-65

Now the men who were holding Jesus mocked him and beat him; they also blindfolded him and asked him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” and they spoke many other words against him, reviling him.

From the Gospel according to John. 19:2-3

And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe; they came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands.


One day, walking in the valley of the Jordan not far from Jericho, Jesus halted and spoke to the Twelve with words of fire, words they found impossible to understand: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; and they will scourge him and kill him, ….[14]”. Now at last, the full meaning of those enigmatic words is revealed: in the courtyard of the pretorium, the residence of the Roman governor in Jerusalem, the grim ritual of torture has begun, while outside the palace the murmur of the crowd begins to swell, in expectation of the spectacle of the death march.

In that room closed to the public, things take place that will be repeated down the centuries in a thousand sadistic and perverse ways, in the darkness of countless prison cells. Jesus is not only physically struck but mocked. Indeed, the Evangelist Luke, to describe those insults, uses the word “blaspheme”, as if to bring out the deepest meaning of the violent abuse which the soldiers heap on their victim. And the torments inflicted upon Christ’s flesh are accompanied by a gruesome farce that is an affront to his personal dignity.

* * *

The Evangelist John recounts that insulting parody, based on the popular game of the mock king. There is a crown whose points are made of thorny twigs; the royal purple is replaced by a red mantle; there is the imperial salute: “Hail, Caesar!”. And yet, behind all this mockery, we can see a glorious sign: yes, Jesus is reviled like a mock king, yet in reality he is the true Sovereign of history.

When, in the end, his kingship will be revealed – as another Evangelist, Matthew, tells us[15] – he will condemn every torturer and tyrant, and summon into his glory not only their victims, but all those who visited prisoners, healed the wounded and the suffering, and assisted the hungry, the thirsty and the persecuted. Now, however, the face transfigured on Tabor [16] is disfigured; the one who is “the reflection of God’s glory”[17] is darkened and abased; as Isaiah had proclaimed, the messianic Servant of the Lord has his back furrowed by the lash, his beard plucked, his face covered with spittle [18]. In him, the God of glory, our suffering humanity is revealed; in him, the Lord of history, the frailty of every creature is revealed; in him, the Creator of the world, the painful cry of every living creature finds an echo.



Pater noster, qui es in clis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in clo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis
et flagellis subditum.

[14] Luke 18:31-32

[15] Cf. Matthew 25:31-46.

[16] Cf. Luke 9:29.

[17] Cf. Hebrews 1:3.

[18] Cf. Isaiah 50:6

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