MEDITATIONS ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: Secondly, Of The Whipping Itself
The Scourging of Christ
Secondly, of the whipping itself.
Consider first, how cruel it was. By the ancient Law the Jews were forbidden to give any man above forty stripes, this being added for the cause of the Commandment, Least thy brother should depart before thine eyes fouly torn with so many stripes. But the Gentiles who were neither tied by the Jews Law, nor moved with any commiseration, exceeded this number so far, as it was revealed unto some Saints, that he received to the number of 5 thousand four hundred stripes: which will not seem improbable, if these few things be diligently considered 1. The Law of beating, by which it was decreed that the guilty person, should be stricken by every one of the soldiers, a Free-man with staves, and a Bond-man with whips. By which law thou dost learn, that thy Lord Chrost was beaten with whips like a Bond-slave, that he might restore thee to liberty, and that he was beaten by Six hundred and threescore Soldiers, according to the will of every one. Secondly, the cause of the Law of this whipping of them, which were condemned to the punishment of the Cross, to wit; that the body of him, that was to be crucified, should be so disfigured, that the nakedness should not move the beholders to any dishonest thoughts, when they should see nothing pleasing or beautiful, but all things torn and full of commiseration. Thirdly the purpose of Pilate, who hoped to spare his life by this so great cruelty used against him. He would therefore, that this correction should be most sharp, by which he might pacify the desire of revenge in his most cruel and inhumane enemies. Fourthly, the hatred of the Priests, whom to please, the Soldiers used all extremities against Christ. Fifthly, the great care and hast, which the Priest used in the carrying of the Cross of Christ, least Christ should die before he was crucified: Which doth plainly show, that he was beaten with so many stripes, that he could not long continue.
Consider secondly the manner observed in this whipping. For first his breast was fast tied to a pillar, and they cruelly rent his back, according to that: Upon my back have sinners builded: or according to the Hebrews: Have Ploughmen polished: that is to say, have most cruelly torn it, And when that part was cut with stripes, then our Lord was untied, that the fore=part of his body, his breast, his belly, his thighs, might be as cruelly used, according to the Prophet: From the sole of his foot, to the crown of his head there was no wholeness in him. And that this was so, thou maist know by this, when Pilate shortly after bringing forth Christ unto the people said: Behold the man. He did not show his back covered with Purple, but his breast and his fore-part for them to behold. Do with the eyes of thy soul behold the cruelty of the Soldiers, and the amiable patience of Christ. Listen with thy ears to the words, laughters, and scoffing of these deriding Soldiers, which they uttered blasphemously. whilst they were whipping, tormenting, and binding the body of Christ. Admire the deep silence of Christ in all these stripes, who complained of no pains, neither in cry, nor sigh. To be brief, do thou inwardly feel the pains of these stripes, which pierced even to the very bones and bowels. Gather up the blood, which dropped down upon the ground; apply it to thy sins and wounds; & pray thy Lord, that he will not suffer it to be shed so plentifully for thee in vain.
Fr. Francois Coster S.J.