GOSPEL. ST. LUKE iv, 23-30.
(Jesus in His Own City. He is Crowned with Thorns.)
At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: Doubt less you will say to Me this similitude: Physician, heal Thyself: as great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in Thy own country. And He said: Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country. In truth I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth. And to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger. And they rose up and thrust Him out of the city: and they brought Him to the brow of the hill, whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong. But He passing through the midst of them, went His way.
What ill treatment the divine Physician of souls experiences in the city which He called with predilection His own! All His efforts were directed towards saving souls for eternal happiness and for God, their Creator. All His thoughts, all His speech, all His prayers, all His miracles had as their sole object the honor of God and the salvation of souls. And how did the favored inhabitants of Capharnaum appreciate these benefits? "And they rose up and thrust Him out of the city: and they brought Him to the brow of the hill, that they might cast Him down headlong." And a little later what is the conduct of the chosen people of God in Jerusalem, whom He loved, honored and blessed so much? "Then the soldiers of the governor taking Jesus into the hall, gathered together unto Him the whole band: and stripping Him, they put a scarlet cloak about Him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand. And bowing the knee before Him, they mocked Him saying: Hail, King of the Jews. And spitting upon Him, they took the reed, and struck His head."
Is it not true, O Christian soul, you were never so ungrateful towards your Savior ? But what do your sins of thought, your proud projects, your plans of vanity, of hatred, of revenge, of sensuality and of injustice testify? For these your Redeemer paid so dearly as He beheld you standing before Him during His crowning with thorns. Physician, heal thyself; and humbly entreat your thorn-crowned Savior for pardon and contrition, and for the necessary strength to keep your good resolutions.
LET US PRAY.
Pour forth, in Thy mercy, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that as we abstain from flesh, we may also rest in our senses from hurtful excesses.
Through Thy blood which was shed in the crowning with thorns, grant, O Jesus, that we may purify our hearts from all stain of evil thoughts and desires, that we may never cast Thee out of our hearts by consenting to evil temptations, and that we may always consider it shameful to be effeminate and refractory members of a body whose head is crowned with thorns. Amen.