Excerpt 14
Heart of Jesus, Bruised
or Our Offenses

IN A prophecy of the Passion of Christ we get a description of what is meant by the present invocation. "There is no beauty in Him nor comeliness; and we have seen Him, and there was no sightliness that we should be desirous of Him . . . and we have thought Him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our iniquities, He was bruised for our sins; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His bruises we are healed" (Isa. 53:2 f.). The body and its faculties are abused in sin and this abuse is atoned by the bodily sufferings of our Lord. Let us look up to Him hanging on the Cross and there behold the work of sin.

The Body Lacerated

The scourging Jesus suffered was administered by a whip made of leather thongs, to which small iron hooks or pieces of lead or wood were attached. The effect of the punishment was so terrible that the victim frequently died on the spot or remained broken in health for the rest of His life. Now since Pilate ordered the scourging of Jesus to arouse the pity of the Jews and to save Him from crucifixion, it was particularly cruel. As the blows fell upon the body of Jesus, the skin began to swell and break, blood oozed out, increasing in volume until it actually streamed down to the ground. As the lashes were lifted for a new stroke they showed red, dripping with the Saviour's blood; pieces of skin and flesh adhered to them and were scattered about the place. Indescribable pain raged through His body and forced tears into His eyes and gentle moans from His lips. It is of this lacerated body that we must think when we look upon the
Crucifix. Thus Jesus atoned for the abuse of the body in sinful pleasure, particularly the sins of the flesh.

The Head Crowned With Thorns

A special torture was devised for our Saviour's Sacred Head. Jesus was crowned with thorns to ridicule His royal dignity. The crown was made from a bush common in Palestine, which grows large and sharp thorns. Branches of these were plaited together and then tied around the head of Jesus in such a way that the thorns would turn inside. The procedure must have caused Him the most intense pain, and the soldiers increased it when they took the reed from His hands and struck Him on the head. With each blow the thorns pierced deeper into His skin, some even injuring the bones of His skull; blood streamed into His eyes and over His face and matted His hair into stiff, unsightly strands. He wore the crown of thorns as He carried the Cross; and the crown remained on His head as He hung there for three hours. All the while these thorns burned into His head, and the least movement racked His whole body with excruciating pain. Thus the Saviour's loving Heart atoned for pride and vainglory, for the sinful display of fashions and the abuse of physical beauty in the seduction of numberless souls.
Nails in Hands and Feet

The body of Jesus was fastened to the Cross by means of large nails. Crucifixion was considered the most painful of all punishments and modern medical science agrees with this opinion. The nailing itself must have caused unbearable pain. First the arms were tied to the transverse beam of the Cross and then the nails were driven through the hand into the holes in the wood with blows of a heavy hammer. The blood gushed forth profusely, the fingers bent and moved convulsively, and a sensation of burning spread through the whole body. The cruel procedure was repeated as the feet were nailed to the Cross. The Cross then was dragged to the place where it was to be raised and set into the ground. It went into place with a jerk that sent a quivering pain through every fiber of the body.

The agony of three hours followed. Merely to be suspended by the hands that long with ropes would be intolerable. Jesus was suspended, not with ropes, but with nails in His hands and feet. The blood still left in Him after the scourging could not circulate properly and a sensation of unbearable pressure on the heart was the result; the lungs breathed heavily, the face turned pale and blue, an intense thirst caused the mouth to open and showed the tongue parched and dry. Long ago the psalmist had foretold it all, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd, My tongue cleaves to My jaws, . . . They have dug My hands and My feet, they have numbered all My bones" (Ps. 21:16 ff.).

Thus Jesus atoned for the sinful pleasure procured by the abuse of hands and feet. The hands have been employed in deeds of violence and lust, they have tom down the temple of God and built monuments to human pride, they have amassed gold and silver to buy every pleasure the world could offer, but they have left the works of salvation undone. The feet have carried the sinner on paths of sin, but failed to walk on the narrow road that leads to Heaven. Indeed, there is not a feature or element in sin for which the Heart of Jesus has not atoned.

Saints have called the Crucifix their book. St. Philip Benizi on his deathbed asked for his book; he meant the Crucifix. Clasping it to his heart he said, "This is my book, of all books the most precious and most cherished. In this book I read throughout my life; with this book I want to die." Jesus Himself directed St. Angela of Foligno to read in this book; from it she would learn the depth of His humility, the disgrace and bitterness of His Passion. In this book we too will learn most precious lessons. It speaks to us of the malice of sin and the greatness of our guilt; it teaches us to do penance and to love Jesus in return. In this book we find consolation in all trials, invincible strength in temptation, perseverance and life everlasting. And so, "It behooves us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for in Him is our salvation, life, and resurrection; through Him we have been saved and delivered" (Introit, Holy Thursday).



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