+IHS PASSION OF OUR LORD: The 24 Meditation Of the Whipping Of Our Lord

TIZIANO Vecellio 
The Scourging of Christ 
c. 1560

The 24. Meditation of the whipping of our Lord.

Then Pilate apprehended him and whipped him. Then the Soldiers of the President taking Jesus, carried him into the Pretors court, and they gathered together all the company unto him. 

Consider first, that the spouse of thy soul, that he might betroth himself unto thee, was divers ways mocked, spit upon, pulled, and beaten: but now he is come to wounds and blood; that he, which gave unto thee his honors, liberty, and other corporal goods, and suffered himself to be spoiled of all these for thy sake, might now in like manner plentifully shed his blood, and pour out his bowels, that he might see, what liberality thou wilt use towards him again.

Consider secondly two causes, why Pilate used this whipping. The one was, that by the sight of the body of Christ torn with so many strips, he might somewhat pacify the fury of the Jews, and stay them, from the desire of the Cross. The other was, that if nevertheless they persisted in their fury, this whipping should go before his crucifying. For by the laws of the Romans, such as were to be crucified were first whipped. But the true cause of the whipping of Christ according to the will of his Father, was first that thou, which wert sick in every part of thy body, mightiest be wholly cured by the wounds of his whole body. Secondly that he might receive thee wholly, who gave himself wholly for thee. Thirdly, that thou shouldest open the bowels of thy love towards him, who by these stripes opened his body to thee.

Consider thirdly, that Pilate delivered Christ to the Praetorian Soldiers, who assembled their whole band, which was the tenth part of a Legion, to wit: Six hundred sixty six Soldiers by whom he was carried into the court of the Praetor, that is, into a more spacious room, & forsaken of all friends was exposed unto the prey, like a Lamb in the midst of Wolves. Enter thou into this Court; mark attentively the cruel wantonness of the Soldiers, and the modesty of Christ in all these miseries, his clear and amiable countenance, and his incredible patience. First they despoiled him of all his clothes, & set him naked amongst them. Consider the shamefastness of thy most chaste Lord set naked before so great a company of men, and keep the clothes, which he put off, to cover thy nakedness. Then they tied his holy body to a pillar, with his arms stretched up, that his whole body might be subject to stripes. Then every one made a whip, either with rods brought thither of purpose, or else of cords, (for this word…., which we call a whip, as Euthemius noteth, is a scourge woven with little cords or leather thongs) and every one fell to work. Pray thou thy Lord, that this his nakedness may cover thy soul with his heavenly grace and virtues; and these his bonds free thee from sins; and this his being alone amongst his cruel enemies, may deliver thee from the hands of thy enemies.


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.


Thirdly after his whipping.

Consider first, the tormentors were wearied; the whips and rods failed; and Christ, being spent with pains and loss of blood, was scant able to stand upon his feet. Spare not thou thyself, but spend thy youthful years and strength in the service of thy Lord.

Consider secondly how thy Lord crept up and down to gather up his scattered clothes, and put them on, not without great pain, which cleaved to his wounds, and were spotted with blood, and hurt his sores. Do thou gather together the Church being the vestment of Christ:and spare no labor to gain souls which are washed with that blood. Wash the wounded body of Christ with thy tears, and anoint it with the oil of Charity and Devotion, and omit nothing which thou thickest may help towards the cure of this body, and of the members thereof.

Consider thirdly, that Christ our Lord did drink his blood thus plentifully unto thee in this his whipping, & in his corronation following in the third hour,in which same hour after his Ascension into Heaven, he sent down the holy Ghost into the hearts of his Apostles & of his whole Church. That thou mayest learn, first that the blood of Christ was plentifully shed, that the grace of the holy Ghost might plentifully be communicated unto thee. Secondly that at the same time, when the effusion of this blood is remembered, & renewed in the Church by the Sacrifice of the Mass, thou being present shouldest with open heart plentifully receive the fruit of this blood, the grace of the holy Ghost, and divers other gifts. The Meditation hereof stirred up admiration, increaseth confidence, enkindleth love, moveth compassion, bringeth sorrow for sins, exhorteth to labor, and melteth the soul in giving thanks.

Fr. Francois Coster S.J.


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