Have you ever considered how many soldiers gathered to taunt Our Lord?
Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for you. And we say those words so casually: suffered and died. Suffered. For you. Died. For you.
What does this mean? To understand Christ’s profound love for you, you must understand what the king of the universe was willing to suffer. Haven’t we all seen the crucified Christ so often that we have become numb to him? Imagine, encountering a crucifix for the first time. We stare at a man’s broken body nailed to a cross. A broken body. Nailed to a cross. How could we not all wince in terror and sorrow?
And how did he die? And what did he suffer? The crucifix could never truly depict what injuries he sustained and what pain was inflicted on our Savior.
But according to a holy tradition, there is a letter preserved in a silver box in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. In this letter are the words that Jesus Christ spoke in private revelations to St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Matilda, and St. Bridget, who fervently prayed to learn more about the Passion of Christ.
Let us read each line aloud, slowly, and repeat it while gazing at the crucifix. The essential thing is not to consider the historical accuracy of these devotional accounts, but to allow these numbers to remind us of the cruelty of crucifixion, and the extra cruelty visited upon Our Lord, recalling that in his perfection, he could suffer as no one else ever could.
Be it known that the number of armed soldiers were 150;
those who trailed me while I was bound were 23.
The executioners of justice were 83;
the blows received on my head were 150;
those on my stomach, 108;
kicks on my shoulders, 80.
I was led, bound with cords by the hair, 24 times;
spits in the face were 180;
I was beaten on the body 6666 times;
beaten on the head 110 times;
I was roughly pushed, and at 12 o’clock I was lifted up by the hair;
pricked with thorns and pulled by the beard 23 times;
received 20 wounds on the head;
pricks of thorns in the head, 110;
mortal thorns in the forehead, 3.
I was afterwards flogged and dressed as a mocked king;
wounds in the body, 1000.
Where did the wood of Jesus’ cross come from?
The soldiers who led Me to the Calvary were 608;
those who watched Me were 3,
and those who mocked Me were 1008;
the drops of blood which I lost were 28,430.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless You, because by Your Holy Cross, you have redeemed the world.
“O Cross of Christ”: Pope Francis’ Prayer for Good Friday