Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Crown of Thorns as a Wedding Ring

The perpetual Adoration chapel I go to every now and then does something interesting during Lent: a crown of thorns is placed upon a crimson pillow with golden tassels atop a small pillar, right next to the altar where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed.

It is chilling. It is haunting. It is...comforting.

I am fascinated by the Crown of Thorns donned by Our Lord. The King of kings crowned with a twisted branch which pierced itself into the flesh of His head with jagged thorns, matting His hair into a mess of blood and anxious sweat. The glorious head once carefully held and tenderly kissed by Mary, now met with such abuse and scorn at the hands of those He loves. The head once anointed with expensive oil now dripping with priceless blood.

In Christian marriage, a man and a woman are united in an inseparable bond, a permanent partnership of the life. The meaning of marriage is profound, a "great mystery" as Paul described it; it is a visible image of Christ's relationship to the Church. The husband, taking on the role as "head" becomes a servant to his wife, loving her as a part of himself and offering himself for her to sanctify her. This is a shadow of the Passion of Christ, the suffering servant who handed Himself over to be beaten and killed in order to sanctify us by union with Him in our own suffering and death. In the Incarnation God became man; in the Passion of Jesus Christ, God became husband to mankind.

Which brings us back to the Crown of Thorns. This crown, which is placed upon the head of our Head as we mock Him and spit at Him and beat Him with sticks, becomes for us a sign of Christ's eternal commitment to us. Even when mocked, Jesus remains silent. When beaten, He remains peaceful. He receives this crown with love, all the love He has to give, and offers us in return His whole self, even His very life. He holds nothing back, allowing His own creation to torture Him and harass Him. He remains completely devoted to us even in the midst of our relentless unfaithfulness; "take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity."

Even if we beat Him, even if we spit in His face, even if we mock Him, slander Him, and kill Him. He belongs to us. He receives all we give Him, even when it bruises Him and makes Him bleed. Because we suffer, He chooses to suffer, too.

Jesus Christ, in His Risen Body, chose to retain the wounds we gave Him. He showed them to those He appeared to after His Resurrection as a sign of His sincerity. He will wear our suffering and agony forever, and we will wear His life and glory forever. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. And not even death will do us part.

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