Before Jesus walked that painful road to Calvary, Jesus' body was subjected to scourging. This was not what was required by the Jews, yet he suffered it. He allowed his precious body not just to suffer a painful, humiliating death, but he allowed that perfect flesh to be shredded by a cruel whip. That blood which erased our sins, of which one drop was enough to save the whole world, was spilled from gashes torn into his body.
Oh, Jesus, how can I ever praise you enough for the sacrifice you made for me. You allowed your precious body to be mutilated. Men who did not believe in you were allowed to take a harsh whip to your back and rip it open. This was not something the Jews called for, but you knew that this was necessary.
Your back was already tender from the agony you experienced in the garden. Your ordeal left your whole body as though it was bruised, so each bite of the whip was even more painful. But you never cried out for the Father to take away this pain. You never begged the angels for a heavenly drug to ease the sting. You simply stretched your back and let the whip fall, let it tear another gash, remove another piece of flesh, and scratch another bone.
Most of our sins are against our soul alone, and those were atoned for by your death. But when we sin in the flesh, succumb to the fleshly desires of our world, to sexual immorality, we sin not just against our souls but also against our flesh – the flesh you have chosen to be your new temples (1 Cor 6:17-18). To make our bodies pure, you allowed yours to be desecrated. Yours was torn so that ours could be made whole again. So that we could join our bodies as well as our souls with yours in holy communion, you allowed your beautiful body to be whipped.
Oh, dear Jesus, I am so sorry for all the times I have offended you. For the times I have defiled the temple you have asked me to maintain. I am so sorry! I am also sorry for all those who continue to sin, not seeing the agony it causes you. For this flogging was not just physical. With each strike of that whip, your spirit was scourged with the attack of the sin I would commit. My Jesus, I did this to you, and I am so sorry.
Mary, Mother of my Savior, I am so sorry for causing your son this pain. Oh, Mother, I am sorry for causing you the pain of having to watch each blow. You were not being flogged, but each strike resonated in your soul – how could it not? You are his mother! Each stripe made on your back etched into your heart. I do not know how you remained silent and by his side. I can barely bare to think of the suffering I caused, and I turn aside at the scourging in The Passion. How can you have stayed and watched each bite of the whip rip your son's flesh off.
That soft skin that once you bathed was now battered and ragged. Whereas once you would gather up your son and bathe his cuts, you now had to watch large gashes being torn into his back. Oh, Mother! How great must your grief has been as you saw him being flayed in such a gruesome manner. The flesh you gave to God was now being given to me and to all. The blood that formed within your womb was being spilled. The human flesh of my savior became the chalice that would save me from my sins.
Mary Magdalen, you were with Jesus at the end, you sat beside his tomb, and you wept when you thought he has been moved from you. Were you also here at this scourging? What went through your heart when you saw the Lord who gave you a second chance, who redeemed you, being flogged? Did you know that he was being flogged for your past transgressions? Did you know that it was by those stripes that you were healed? Did you see the power flowing through the blood that was dripping onto the hard ground? Did you feel your sins being erased with each drop of that life-saving blood?
Host of Heavenly Angels, were you also watching? Were you waiting for the Son to breathe the word that would allow you to stop this madness? Were you hiding your glorious eyes, or were you unable to tear your gazes away from the mutilation of your God's flesh? Did you gather around Mary and try to comfort her? Did you try to catch the hands guiding the whips only to be held off by Jesus? Were you able to see the faces of those that this torture was saving? Did heaven overflow with heavenly tears as this horrible scene unfolded?
Father, I cannot even imagine the sorrow that must have filled you as this hour dawned. Yet this perfect flesh, formed inside of the womb of your daughter, was being torn apart. You knew this was the price of having me with you, yet you both agreed that it was a price you were willing to pay. You allowed your son to show me the way through his body. If I wish to put the sins of the flesh behind me, I too must scourge my flesh. Perhaps not literally, but its nature must be denied, or it will rule. Is this why you allowed such a painful method to be used? To show me the severity of the sins of the flesh? To try to impress upon my heart, my mind, and my soul the great disparity between the way of Christ and the way of the world? To try to impress upon me the method by which my body must be broken?
Spirit, your spouse was suffering from watching the Son you gave her being torn to pieces. One of the other parts of you was sorrowful, and the other was in intense pain. But all three – and you – were filled with love. And it was that love which you poured upon Jesus, strengthening Him so that He would be strong enough to endure the pain being inflicted. Strengthen me in the same way. I do not wish to add to the pain, to the depth, and to the number of lashes that my dear Savior took for me. Teach me to subject my flesh to mortification, to deny my flesh that which it desires, so that I may imitate Christ, that Christ's merits would cover me and make my body a worthy temple.