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Behold the Man!

During Lent, we walk our Lord’s Way of the Cross, the path he took as he died for us and then triumphed over death on Easter morn. At the first station, Jesus is unjustly condemned to die. Caryll Houselander reflects on that station with us.

He is a man of sorrows, covered in bruises and stripes. He is made a laughingstock. He is crowned with thorns. A reed is put into his hand for a scepter, a tattered soldier’s cloak is thrown over his shoulders. His eyes are blindfolded. His face is covered with spittings. His friends have forsaken him. The kiss of treason burns on his cheek.

Behold the Son of God!

He put on you and me. He is bruised by our falls. He bleeds from our wounds. He sheds our tears. He is going to die our death.

Of all men born, he need not have died; but because things are as they are, Christ chose to give himself to everyone who will receive him so each person who wills can tread that road with the feet of Christ, and at the end of it he can, if he wills, die not his own death but Christ’s.

He chose the impotence of humanity to give us the power of his love, the weakness of people to give us his strength, the fear of everyone to give us his courage, our pain to give us his peace.

Behold the man!

In him, behold humanity!

At the beginning of the Via Crucis, Christ gave himself to all. He took all of us to himself, made us one with himself. All manner of men and women and children will be redeemed by his passion. We are in Christ, and his Father sees all of us as Christ, his Son in whom he is well pleased.

There, in the Prince of Peace, stripped and wearing a soldier’s coat that has been put on him, are the conscripts compelled to go to war. There, in the young man in the flower of his manhood going out willingly to be sacrificed, are all those young men who go willingly to die in battle for their fellow men. There, in the prisoner, are the repentant criminals. There, in Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, are the kings of this world.

Behold the man!

It is significant that everything contributing to Jesus’ condemnation is parallel with everything that contributes to the passion of the martyrs of our own times: the intrigues and the fears of politicians, the hatred of fanatics, mass hysteria; the unstable crowds swayed by paid agitators, the popular craving for sensation—and those many Pilates of our day who wash their hands of the responsibility of knowing “what is truth?” who shut their eyes to Christ in human beings and try to escape from their own uneasiness by evasions: “I am innocent of the blood of this just man—look you to it! In any case, there is nothing that I could do about it!”

Neither is it by chance that those who will carry out the sentence will be the young and ignorant soldiers of an army of occupation deprived of the knowledge of the one God, obeying their orders without question because they are conditioned to obey orders without questioning or thinking.

Behold the man!

Yes, and behold yourself in him. Each of us can recognize himself or herself in the disfiguring, the bruising, hiding the beauty of the sons and daughters of humanity, of God. But always remember, dear brothers and sisters of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, no matter the struggle:

“By his stripes we are healed.” Amen. Ρ

This book excerpt, adapted for the Scrupulous Anonymous newsletter, is from the revised edition of The Way of the Cross by Caryll Houselander, © 2002 (Liguori Publications 808531). Her work was published originally by Sheed & Ward in 1955. To order the revised edition, visit or call 800-325-9521.

Published inReflections