by Aaron D’Souza, University of Texas at Dallas
Prophesy unto us, O Christ. Who is he that struck thee?Matthew 26:68
These words directed at Our Lord stand out to me when reading through Christ’s passion. Christ’s tormentors do not stop at inflicting physical harm on Him but also mock him while doing so. Insults are some of the worst wounds to bear, especially those from people whom we respect and when they are delivered in a spirit of malevolence or hatred. It is difficult to imagine why someone would say such hurtful words and even more perplexing if we did nothing to provoke them in the first place. Being human, we immediately want to clear our good names, or worse, fight back to “even the score” with the aggressor.
The passage does not show Christ, who can see the thoughts of men (Matt. 9:4), proving himself to his aggressors by answering their question. He demonstrates how to bear wrongs patiently – one of the seven spiritual works of mercy. Christ even dies for these men who scorned and abused Him. When we are harmed, Christ’s example encourages us to pray for the people who hurt us. We should also give others the benefit of the doubt; he or she may have been a victim, themselves, of many insults and could be longing for healing. Recognizing this would lead us to prayer and compassion rather than disdain and contempt.
I conclude this brief reflection with a quote from Thomas Kempis: “When suffering injuries [, the patient man] grieveth more for the other’s malice than for his own wrong; when he prayeth heartily for those that despitefully use him, and forgiveth them from his heart; when he is not slow to ask pardon from others; when he is swifter to pity than to anger; when he frequently denieth himself and striveth altogether to subdue the flesh to the spirit” (The Imitation of Christ).