I got it my head to create a replica of the Crown of Thorns this Lent. You know, like the one Christ wore in His Passion and Crucifixion. Living in the desert we have lots of prickly things and thorns in abundance. I started with the trimmings from the beautiful bougainvillea bush; pretty to look at but thorns like crazy. After poking myself more times than I can remember, I decided to soak them in water for a couple days and see if that made the branches a little more pliable. This was barely helpful and did not lessen the impact of the thorns. I attempted to “plait a crown.” It proved to be much more difficult and painful than expected. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I can tell you, I certainly have gained a deeper appreciation for what Christ felt.
Next, I went to the Ocotillo to add some additional menacing thorns. Ocotillos have thorns about every ¼” and scream back off to any passerby. I remember backing up into this common desert monster as I picked weeds once, and I was practically impaled. It took a bit of time to extricate myself as every thorn in my vicinity caught hold of my clothing, and hair. Creating this mockup of the crown was no easy task. I was pricked so many times that if there would have been toxin present, I would be dead by now. The Roman soldiers had to be tough as nails and have hands like steel gloves to have weaved so quickly this instrument of torture. It boggles my mind that they just whipped up a crown on the fly, to crush on the head of our Lord and Savior. Their cruelty was legendary.
When we were in Paris a few years back, we found out on the plane that there would be a veneration of the Crown of Thorns at Notre Dame at three pm. We ran from the hotel to get there in time for this once in a lifetime experience. The crown was encased in a kind of plastic tube to protect it. It is hard to imagine that since that time, the great cathedral has suffered such a devastating fire. Neither of us will ever forget that experience of being so close to the Crown of Thorns, so close to the weapon that caused more Precious Blood to fall from our Savior’s head in his self-gift for our salvation.
Take some time in your day, every day, to consider the veracity of love required to undergo this singular event for our salvation. The infinite love that God has for each and every one of us pulsed through his veins. I read once that it was not the nails that held him fast to the Cross, it was His Love for us that kept Him there. Think about it. He was God. Nothing could have ever restrained the God-Man. “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Ph 2:8) He willingly submitted to this insane torture and humiliation. This innocent Lamb chose pain for our gain…and we can’t be bothered with Church, or consistent prayer, or this whole Lent thing.
In this short video Mark Hart cuts to the chase on what transpired in that horrific, salvific event. Watch here and then ponder anew each time you make the sign of the Cross, each time you want to blow off Mass, each time you choose evil over good. We all screw up. We all sin. Jesus knew it all and still said “yes” to the Cross, despite our continued faults and failings.
We can live our lives as if the Cross were only a tall tale and this is all there is- life sucks and then you die. Or you can enter into this holy and mysterious gift of love, which was given for you that you might live and live abundantly now and for eternity. I choose the latter.
What say you pilgrim?