The face of the suffering Christ

by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
Jesus came out wearing a crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
Pilate said to the Jews, Look at the man.

The face of the suffering ChristIf we had looked at the face of Jesus when he stood in Pilate’s courtyard, what would we have seen? A face bruised from the mockery of the soldiers; a face wrapped in silence, not offering any defense against the slanderous allegations of the leaders; a face masking a great mystery of love that would not relent from following God’s will even to death.

The face of Jesus in his suffering looked very much like the faces of countless other victims of despotic power and human greed down through the centuries. Throughout the world each day, a hundred petty rulers like Pilate tell a hundred jeering crowds to “Look at the man.” See the “criminal” who would dare question the status quo of injustice enshrined in political and economic systems built on the subjugation of the poor.

And ordinary people just like us see faces bruised from the interrogator’s blows, faces wrapped in silence, forbidden to speak in their own defense against the lies fashioned by their enemies, faces masking within them the great mystery of commitment to God and the courage to die for the truth.

Do we honestly look at those faces or do we turn away in embarrassment because we cannot face the truth for which these people are ready to become martyrs?

Look at the face of the Crucified who invites you to follow him. He will be father, mother — everything to you. St. Paul of the Cross

Come, let us adore Christ, the Word of God who became the Man of Sorrows for us.
The Lord turned and looked at Peter,
and Peter went out and began to weep bitterly because he had denied his Lord.
Psalm 130, 1-8
Out of the depths, I call to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my cry!
May your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, mark our sins
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness
and so you are revered.

I wait with longing for the Lord,
my soul waits for his word.
My soul looks for the Lord
more than sentinels for daybreak.

More than sentinels for daybreak,
let Israel look for the Lord,
For with the Lord is kindness,
with him is full redemption.
Reading: Isaiah 53:2-3
There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Blessed are you, Jesus, the Man of Sorrows and our Savior,
— let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved.

In your own person, you restored us to the likeness of God,
— keep us from defacing that image in our souls.

Comfort with your strength all our afflicted ones
— and let us be bearers of your compassion.
Our Father...

Lord our God,
Lord our God,
through the passion of your only Son,
you have freed us
from our inheritance of sin and death.
Destroy in us our inborn likeness to Adam
and create us anew
in the likeness of the new and sinless Adam.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Illustration: Duk Soon