What reason did the God-man, Jesus subject Himself to the Passion? Specifically, for what reason did the Christ willingly endure the scourging? I invite you to give this some deep thought, maybe for the first time.
For me personally, the Holy Spirit invited me to enter into the Passion more deeply than I ever have before. By the encouragement of a couple men at our parish, I have been reading the book, “The Passion of Jesus And Its Hidden Meaning: A Scriptural Commentary,” by Reverend James Groenings, S.J., Rockford: Tan, 1900, 6th Ed., during Lent.
I have learned a lot, and I highly recommend this book. I am going to share a portion of this book and make comments about it, as it relates to the pro-life movement.
SINS OF THE FLESH
Consider that sins of the flesh are the offenses against God and man that the pro-life movement fights against each day. In other words, because people commit sins of fornication and struggle with sins of the sexual appetite, they continue to sacrifice other people’s lives to get their ways.
According to Rev. Groenings, “In the first place, Christ wished, by submitting to the flagellation, to atone for all the sins of impurity…” (p. 197).
Mankind has a bad habit of thinking with their impulses, rather than using right reason to control their actions. When men and women stop thinking rationally, then they start behaving no better than the animals. Men are willing to punish themselves to satisfy their desires.
For this reason, Christ allowed His flesh to be shredded by the instruments of flagellation. He wished to take upon Himself all sins against the flesh, so that our such sins could be forgiven.
While saying Christ suffered the scourging to atone for all sin committed by all peoples for all of time, Rev. Groenings names particular sins of the flesh that were especially atoned for in Christ’s sufferings at the pillar (p. 197).
Rev. Groenings adds, on top of actions, lustful thoughts, looks, and words were also being expiated by Christ (p. 197).
CHRIST SUFFERS THE HUMILIATION OF BEING DISROBED
Jesus allowed himself to be unclothed by the Roman soldiers. “By His ignominious disrobing, He wished to atone especially for those sins which are committed and provoked by shameless clothing,” Rev. Groenings explains (p. 197).
Who exactly was on His mind when he suffered the humiliation of the disrobing? The Reverend answers that Christ wished to atone for “slaves of lust and open libertines,” as well as “those frivolous women who [dress scantily so that] everyone who loves his soul, is forced to cast down in his eyes in fear.” (p. 197).
He adds, “But He thought also of those Catholic women and girls who…[appear] in attire which readily provokes and begets sin[—]a fashion which comes from the devil and needs to the devil. These are sins and customs on account of which Christ suffered Himself to be disrobed and scourged” (p. 197-198).
Rev. Groenings, writing over one hundred years ago, cites the immodest wear of Catholic women and girls as particularly distasteful… If he thinks that is bad, what would he think today?
Those who dress immodestly do not have self-respect for their own, God-given bodies. Yes, they are beautiful, but the body also needs to remains veiled. It is a treasure to be given to one’s spouse, not a low cost gift to be given away for cheap.
Dressing modestly and acting chastely is how we Catholic ought to behave. Doing so will show appreciation for the gift of our own bodies and of those around us.
To conclude this section on immodesty, the reverend lists numerous examples from Scripture of the judgment God brought down on impure people and entire cities (p. 198). “But how the vice of impurity appears to the eyes of God is shown more clearly and definitely by Christ, scourged for us, than by the Divine judgments and the Mosaic Law itself” (p. 198-199).
FOR WHAT OTHER REASONS DID CHRIST ENDURE THE SCOURGING?
Fr. Groenings goes on to describe three more reasons Christ willingly ensured the flagellation (p. 199-200):
(1) Christ wished to display graphically the terribly punishments to be inflicted upon the hell-bound after their death,
(2) Christ desired to provide strength and comfort to future martyrs for the faith, and
(3) Christ made himself an example for all penitents of the need to practice penance, especially against one’s own body, in response to sin’s against the flesh. St Paul, Fr. Groenings point out, heeds this, saying he “chastised his body” (1 Cor 9:27).
I realize this is a bit of a different post, but I wished to highlight that it was the sins of flesh that Christ especially was atoning for, when He was stripped and then scourged.
Sins of the flesh ties us down and enslave us. Let be mindful of their deathly grip and pray for true liberation from them—not only for ourselves, but for others caught up in them.
In the pro-life movement, we are fighting against supernatural, evil forces who are actively working to destroy souls by means of these sins of the flesh.
Especially here on Good Friday, we can offer our Lord consolation for His humiliation and balm for His wounds from the flagellation. We can offer Him relief, in the midst of His sorrow and true pain over all sins of the flesh.
I highly recommend this wonderful, in-depth commentary on the Passion. I found the chapters describing the trials Christ went through and the analysis of Pontius Pilate to be extraordinary. Please pick up your copy today of The Passion of Jesus and Its Hidden Meaning.
Are you willing to pick up your copy of Rev. Groening’s book to read for yourself?
What book(s) on the Passion do you recommend for others?
And finally, how would you describe your Lent this time around?