“We offer Thee, O Lord Jesus, this eighth decade in honor of Thy cruel crowning with thorns, and we ask of Thee, through this Mystery and through the intercession of Thy Blessed Mother, a great contempt for the world.”
How many times have we heard we are to be “in this world, and not of this world”? Yet how many of us actually live our lives according to this decree? It is a difficult rule to live by, as the things we see and feel quickly become our reality, while thoughts of God and Heaven are brushed aside for quieter moments and on Sunday.
The reality, however, is that God and Heaven are just as real as any of the people, places and events occurring in our everyday lives. But because we cannot see God and Heaven, we are easily tempted to go about our day as if the world is all there is. We get sucked into the vortex of political talk, back-to-school sales, housecleaning and party planning, all the while losing sight of the real purpose of our existence.
Once we have lost sight of this truth, we then become vulnerable to the social influences surrounding us. Instead of being simply “in this world”, using God’s creation to sustain our lives as we fulfill God’s mission for us, we become people who are “of this world”, created for the sole purpose of comfort, happiness and rising social stature among our peers.
The Crowning with Thorns is a harsh reminder of our weakness in this area. Jesus was truly in this world, but was in no way of it. He did not strive for social acceptance, and He did not thrive on praise and admiration. Instead, He knew His true value rested in His status in Heaven. He was King!
The Roman soldiers, of course, did not understand Him. He claimed to be a King, yet He did not act, dress or speak like one, and He had no royal lineage they could account for. He did not play by the world’s rules. And because Jesus did not play by the world’s rules, He made them uncomfortable.
Their cruel torments within this mystery were performed not on orders from those in command, but were an unholy inspiration to mock Jesus’ proclamation of His Kingdom. In doing so, they intended to bring Jesus down, to show the world He was just a man, while placing themselves above Him. They exerted power over Him, ridiculed Him and made themselves “kings” instead of falling to their knees and paying homage to the one ruler who could save their souls.
People who choose to separate themselves from the world and live for God alone are easy targets, and there are many today who are all too willing to persecute Christ’s faithful subjects just as the soldiers persecuted Our Lord. They ridicule those who make an effort to grow in virtue, accusing them of being “holier than thou” and take malicious delight in the failings of Christ’s followers. Those who do so are not only guilty of mocking Christ’s subjects, but are also mocking the very Kingship of Christ.
So many others are guilty of His crowning by spending their time seeking the praise and admiration of others, then trying ceaselessly to maintain their status once they feel they have reached it. Just as our first parents were tempted by pride, we too can easily fall prey to the temptation to raise ourselves above our intended place in the world and strive to reach a God-like status among our peers.
But reality shows that this sort of worldly prestige is truly worth nothing in the end. And many have found, all too late, the unfathomable wealth they could have possessed, had they bowed before their true King while still on earth instead of bowing to those they perceived to be above them in hopes of improving their own level of social status.
And lastly, there are those who inflict the most painful wounds to Our Lord’s precious head through obstinate disbelief or, more painful still, indifference. The tabernacle sits hidden and alone in the sanctuary while people bustle about and chat after Mass. Others do not feel it necessary to genuflect before Him when entering or leaving the church. And others still, instead of remaining in adoration and thankful praise after receiving Him in the Eucharist, choose to drag Our King out into the parking lot without a second thought before the Mass even ends.
While the Romans may have caused Him pain and humiliations, they did not understand what they were truly doing. We as Catholics, however, are far more culpable for remaining “of this world” for the simple reason that we have been taught the truth. No matter what form He takes, whether He is a beaten and bleeding man, a triumphant resurrected Savior or a small piece of consecrated bread, Christ is our King and claims the right to be worshipped and praised above all others in this world and the next. Always.
Contempt of the world is a difficult treasure to acquire, but I challenge you to seek it out, for unfathomable rewards await those who have acquired this virtue. Pray, through this mystery, to be released from all desire to be respected and admired. Free yourself from the burden of being “of this world” and living according to the world’s ways. And relinquish your worthless, worldly crown and place it at His feet.
Then, by making such a rare and sacrificial act of love for Our King in this world, you can be assured that Our Lady will see to it you will be crowned with glory in His Kingdom to come!
“Grace of the mystery of Our Lord’s Crowning with Thorns, come down into my soul and make me despise the world.”
Copyright 2010 Cassandra Poppe