The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ 5.
THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS
“Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted Out, “Crucify, crucify him!” “A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will.
And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never gave suck!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23: 20-30).”
POINTS FOR MEDITATION:
- WHAT OUR LORD HAD SUFFERED SO FAR: As a summary of what Our Lord had suffered so far since the Agony in the Garden, let us remind ourselves of the following:
- an intense EMOTIONAL STATE OF ANGUISH (evidenced by the hematidrosis);
- GREAT INTERIOR SUFFERING caused by the WOUNDING BETRAYAL by Judas, HURTFUL DENIALS by Peter, disappointing ABANDONMENT by his disciples;
- PHYSICAL BEATING AND HUMILIATION from the hands of the guards who spat on him, spanked him, struck him on the face together with the reviling insults against the Son of Man;
- the TIREDNESS caused by being forced to walk from one place of trial to another, approximately 4,0 kilometers;
- the brutal and cruel SCOURGING OF THE PILLAR which caused GREAT PAIN on his sensitized skin caused by the hemohidrosis and numerous muscle- deep lacerations on Our Lord’s flesh due to the more than 39 Roman law required whipping with metal balls and pieces of sharp bones at the end of the leather cords;
- more HUMILIATION AND MOCKERY, PHYSICAL VIOLENCE on the part of the Roman Soldiers
- the PAIN AND PROFUSE BLEEDING caused by the CROWNING OF THORNS, and the BLOWS on the head of Our Lord by the soldiers’ ferocious initiative..
- the REJECTION suffered by Our Lord on the part of the multitude who preferred to save Barabbas instead of Him. Those voices which once acclaimed, Hosanna! And who were present during his miracles have now turned their backs against Our Lord.
- THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS:
Now, they removed the cloak of Our Lord which had already stuck to his deep wounds. Blood starts to ooze once again…more painful but silent shudder. They put his own clothes which immediately are stained with his fresh blood. And they put the patibulum, the horizontal beam of the Cross on his shoulders, weighing 60-70 kg, to which his hands were tied by ropes.
- The weakened and heavily bruised body of Our Lord tried to balance itself to remain standing under this new burden which He willingly carries for you and for me. The journey to Golgotha, around 650 meters from where He was scourged begins.
- And Our Lord starts the journey with his bare soles along the rough, dry and dusty roads, being pulled by the ropes which the soldiers held and pushed by the soldiers to hurry him up. The weight of the heavy burden finally causes our Lord to fall onto His face towards the ground. More bruises and contusions to his Most Holy Face…Another fall…and another…
- And so the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry the Cross. Our Lord shows his sincere gratitude to Simon, looking directly into his eyes, perhaps with a small smile…
- HISTORICAL AND MEDICAL DETAILS ON THE CARRYING OF THE CROSS: Thompson and Harrub provide us a summary of the historical and medical details of the carrying of the Cross:
- “Archaeological evidence strongly suggests that criminals during the time of Christ were not forced to carry an entire T-shaped cross … but rather ONLY THE CROSSBEAM (KNOWN AS A PATIBULUM), WHICH WOULD HAVE WEIGHED BETWEEN 75 AND 125 POUNDS. It was customary, however, for convicted criminals to carry their own cross from the scourging site to the place of crucifixion (Barbet, 1953, p. 46; Tenney, 1964, p. 286; Bromiley, 1979, 1:829). Their hands normally were tied (or even left unbound) during the procession, rather than being nailed to the patibulum. THE EFFECTS OF THE SCOURGING ON CHRIST’S PHYSICAL CONDITION CAN BE INFERRED FROM HIS SEVERELY WEAKENED CONDITION—AS DEMONSTRATED BY THE FACT THAT LATER, SIMON OF CYRENE WOULD BE COMPELLED TO CARRY THE PATIBULUM. As a bloodied Christ struggled with that crossbeam, a centurion led the procession, which usually consisted of a full Roman military guard (Barbet, 1953, p. 49; Johnson, 1978, 70:100). …Measurements indicate that THE DISTANCE FROM THE PRAETORIUM TO THE SITE OF CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION WAS APPROXIMATELY ONE-THIRD OF A MILE (600-650 METERS) [Davis, 1965, p. 186; Bucklin, 1970; Johnson, 1978, p. 99; Edwards et al., 1986, 256:1456]. The Bible never actually mentions that Christ collapsed under that heavy load. However, CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITY THAT IF HIS HANDS WERE TIED TO THE CROSSPIECE AND HE HAD FALLEN, JESUS WOULD HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO BREAK THE FALL. Researchers have speculated that falling under THE WEIGHT OF A CROSSBEAM VERY LIKELY WOULD HAVE “RESULTED IN BLUNT CHEST TRAUMA AND A CONTUSED HEART” (Ball, 1989, p. 83).”From Bert Thompson, Ph.D. and Brad Harrub, Ph.D. , in “An Examination of the Medical Evidence for the Physical Death of Christ”in https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=145
Lord Jesus, we ask you to forgive us for the many times we have caused you to suffer and added a new burden to your Cross. May we learn how to struggle against ourselves, our disordered passions, out of love for you and may we be able to live daily your words to deny ourselves, carry our cross daily and follow you.
Dear friends: “See how lovingly he embraces the Cross. Learn from him. Jesus carries the Cross for you: you . . . carry it for Jesus. But don’t drag the Cross. . . . Carry it squarely on your shoulder, because your Cross, if you carry it like that, will not be just any Cross. . . It will be the Holy Cross. Don’t carry your Cross with resignation: resignation is not a generous word. Love the Cross. When you really love it, your Cross will be…a Cross without a Cross” (St. Josemaria, Holy Rosary, fourth sorrowful mystery).
SEE AS WELL:
- THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/14/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-the-agony-in-the-garden/
- THE JEWISH AND ROMAN TRIALS: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/15/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-jesus-sufferings-during-the-jewish-and-roman-trials/
- THE SCOURGING AT THE PILLAR: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/16/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-3-the-scourging-at-the-pillar/
- THE CROWNING WITH THORNS: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/21/the-passion-of-our-lord-jesus-christ-the-crowning-with-thorns/
- HOW TO MEDITATE ON THE PASSION OF OUR LORD: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/13/how-to-meditate-on-the-passion-of-our-lord/
- SUMMARY OF CATHOLIC TEACHING. THE PASSION AND DEATH ON THE CROSS: https://catholicsstrivingforholiness.com/2016/03/19/summaries-of-catholic-teaching-topic-10-the-passion-and-death-on-the-cross-of-our-lord-jesus-christ/
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ORIGINAL PHOTO SOURCE: Titian, Christ Carrying the Cross in https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fd/Titian_-_Christ_Carrying_the_Cross_-_WGA22830.jpg