Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Ecce Homo, Ecce Us

File:Ecce-homo Mantegna.jpg
Apr 3, 2012
Elizabeth Scalia

My intention with this column was to share some musings on the words of Pontius Pilate as he presented the tortured Jesus—the icon of “extreme humility”—to the crowd: “Ecce homo”; behold the man.

They have become my Holy Week lectio divina, those two words, prompting me again and again to see the people I observe through a broader lens, one that curves through the light-filled wounds of Christ. The tired mother impatiently tugging the hand of the even more tired little girl? Ecce homo: the put-upon Jesus, wondering where he can lay his head. The India-born priest struggling to make the love of God understood in his homily, then continuing with mass? Ecce homo: the Christ, still misunderstood by his own friends, offering a blessing and feeding a multitude. The teenage boy who slinks sullenly into the pew but ends up entering into the mass in a moving way? Ecce homo: Jesus in Gethsemane, preferring the cup to pass yet surrendering to God’s plan.

Ecce homo: Christ enjoying ecstatic welcome as he enters Jerusalem, only to be rejected, scorned, debased, and destroyed just a week later. Ecce all of us, for all of our triumphs contain the threat of annihilation, particularly if we cling to them too dearly, or believe that they will somehow exempt us from the great challenges and crucibles stationed along all of our roads, like so many sinkholes. Grasping too tightly to illusions of our own specialness can render us ill-equipped to withstand a sudden reversal of fortune, but then—if we can find the strength to consent to the unfathomable will of God—ecce homo, again: there is glory beyond our imaginings.

A pretty tidy lectio, no doubt. If all of our musings on Christ and human life could be so straight-forward and consoling, we would call contemplation a cakewalk.

But true contemplation is a challenge; its sweet allures eventually lead us deeper, forcing us to confront ever more difficult ideas, and to struggle through them, always with the goal of conformity to the mind and will of God, as much as it may be known. Full Essay image


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