Excerpt from Caryll Hollander’s The Way of the Cross. You can read about the book at last week’s post, here.
Jesus is Condemned to Death
“BEHOLD THE MAN!”
He is a man of sorrows. He is covered in bruises and stripes. He is made a laughing stock. He is crowned with a crown of thorns. A reed is put into His hand for a sceptre, a tattered soldier’s cloak is thrown over His naked shoulders. His eyes are blindfolded. His face is covered with spittings. He is bound like a dangerous criminal. His own people have chosen a murderer before Him. His friends have forsaken Him. The kiss of treason burns on His cheek.
“He has no comeliness whereby we shall desire him!”
“He is a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people.”
And He is condemned to death.
“Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!”
“Behold the man!”
“Behold the Son of God!”
Behold the man abiding in mankind!
He had put on our humanity. He has put you on—and me. He had covered Himself with our shame, blindfolded His eyes with our blindness, bound Himself with our slavery to self. He is bruised by our falls. He bleeds from our wounds. He sheds our tears. He has made Himself weak with our weakness. Faint with our faintheartedness. He is going to die our death.
All men are condemned to die, but He is condemned to die not only His own death, but yours and mine, and that of every man whom He will indwell through all the ages to come.
“Behold the Son of God!”
“This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased!”
He alone, of all men born, need not have died; but because things are as they are, because we have to pay the price of our sins, and our life on this earth must inevitably be a journey through suffering to death, Christ has chosen to give Himself to every man who will receive Him, so that each man who wills can tread that road with the feet of Christ, and at the end of it he can, if he wills, die not his own death but Christ’s.
That is why death is the choice of Divine Love: “Dost thou doubt that if I call on my Father, even now, he will send more than twelve legions of angels to my side? But how, were it so, should the scriptures be fulfilled, which have prophesied that all must be as it is?” (Matt. xxvi.53–54). His bound hands hold back the legions of angels.
He has chosen our impotence in order to give us the power of His love, our weakness to give us His strength, our fear to give us His courage, our ignominy to give us His majesty, our pain to give us His peace, our wounds to give us His power to heal, our dying to give us His life; our interdependence that we may give Him to one another.
“Behold the man.”
In Him behold mankind! (pp. 6-8)
All quotes taken from the 2015 reprint edition by Angelico Press, which is a republication of the original work published by Sheed and Ward, Inc., 1955.
And here is a wonderful exegesis on the first station by a young friar from my favorite of the religious orders, a Matthew Jarvis OP from the Dominican Order, Province of England.