But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed. — Isaiah 53:5
Almost two weeks ago I shared an image of Jesus I see in my mind, most often in Adoration, in which the scars from His scourging are revealed to me. And as you may have seen, last Thursday I left to make a silent retreat. The weekend was peaceful, profound, and, I believe, fruitful; I will be sharing bits and pieces of it over the next many days, I’m sure.
One particularly impactful reflection began as we prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, and came to a beautiful conclusion early this morning. As we prayed, I meditated on scourging and crucifixion, and as usual, wondered what must happen to people to harden them enough to inflict such suffering on another human being. I can almost imagine it in the abstract—that people could be cruel enough to flay someone ragged and nail him to a cross to die. But when the scene becomes specific—how could this person put his hand to the whip or the hammer and make that person weep and bleed—I struggle to comprehend the inhumanity.
Could I do it? Never…
And then I thought about those around me, whom I profess to love and then lash with my tongue and pierce with my glance. The suffering I inflict out of comfort and convenience by looking away, tuning out, remaining ignorant and silent and comfortable.
Perhaps I do not wield the tools of torture directly, but I make myself hard: blunt like the hammer, sharp like the spike. I make myself heard and felt: quick and cutting as the cord that striped Our Lord red.
The Jews and Romans had their reasons, however misguided. I have no reason, except to not be bothered.
So I prayed for Christ’s forgiveness for all the ways I hurt those I love, those I don’t love, and those I don’t even know. And I knew God heard those prayers, because at the time, He gave me great peace.
Then early this morning, as I prayed by candlelight, I saw a new scene. I was not alone as I approached Jesus. His mother—our Mother—brought me before Him, her hand gently resting on my shoulder, and introduced me to Him as His brother. He smiled in recognition and said He knew me. We embraced as before, and again I could feel the scars crisscrossing His shoulders and back. I knew, this time, that these were only the scars I gave Him, and my heart sank in sorrow.
But immediately His presence lifted my heart again: I could feel by the scars that these wounds were long healed and caused Him no more pain—and by His arms drawing me near that I was forgiven.