Crowned with thorns, our Lord is lifted up on the Cross, where he dies as "King of the Jews." Notice how many times he is called "king" in today's Gospel--mostly in scorn and mockery.
As we hear the long accounts of his Passion, at every turn we must remind ourselves--he suffered this cruel and unusual violence for us.
He is the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah in today's First Reading. He reenacts the agony described in today's Psalm, and even dies with the first words of that Psalm on his lips (see Psalm 22:1). Listen carefully for the echoes of this Psalm throughout today's Gospel--as Jesus is beaten, his hands and feet are pierced; as his enemies gamble for his clothes, wagging their heads, mocking his faith in God's love, his faith that God will deliver him.
Are we that much different from our Lord's tormenters? Often, don't we deny that he is King, refusing to obey his only commands that we love him and one another? Don't we render him mock tribute, pay him lip service with our half-hearted devotions?
In the dark noon of Calvary, the veil in Jerusalem's temple was torn. It was a sign that by his Death Jesus destroyed forever the barrier separating us from the presence of God. He was God and yet humbled himself to come among us, we're reminded in today's Epistle. And despite our repeated failures, our frailty, Jesus still humbles himself to come to us, offering us his body and blood in the Eucharist.
His enemies never understood: his kingship isn't of this world (see John 18:36). He wants to write his law, his rule of life on our hearts and minds. As we enter Holy Week, let us once more resolve to give him dominion in our lives. Let us take up the cross he gives to us-- and confess with all our hearts, minds, and strength, that truly this is the Son of God.
Ps 22:8--9, 17--20, 23--24
- Scott Hahn is the founder and president of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He is also the bestselling author of numerous books including The Lamb's Supper, Reasons to Believe, and Rome Sweet Home (co-authored with his wife, Kimberly). Some of his newest books are The Creed, Joy to the World and Evangelizing Catholics.