Tuesday 1 October 2013

Running down the beard

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
    running down upon the beard,
upon the beard of Aaron,
    running down on the collar of his robes!

Psalm 133

29 and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.

Matthew 27

The psalm is a Song of Ascent, sung by pilgrims on their way to Zion to rejoice together in one of the festivals of God. In it David, an ancestor of Jesus, refers back to the first anointing of the first High Priest-
12 And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to consecrate him.
Leviticus 8:12

It is a joyous song and brings together three great occasions for happiness among God's people. A remembrance of the past institution of the priestly office to forever offer praise and thanksgiving to the One who rescued His people from slavery and bondage, an enjoyment of the present companionship and love of the pilgrim people and a looking forward to the celebrations in the Holy City before the Tabernacle of the Blessed One. One can easily imagine the caravan of returning exiles or those of the diaspora blending their voices together in the same sort of harmony with which they had blended their lives and their journeys together for many days, perhaps weeks or even months and now the end of all their efforts was in sight.

How different and how radically similar was the anointing of our Lord and Saviour. The blood trickling down His scalp from the cruelly stabbing thorns driven ever deeper by the blows from His mock sceptre. This harmony of mockery from the brotherhood of Roman soldiery. This final anointing of the ultimate High Priest.  

In contemplating this mystery of the Crowning with Thorns we too can see three occasions for happiness since we have a God who can bring good out of evil and great good out of great evil. By His Passion and Death Jesus took up His role as both High Priest and Sacrifice being forever before the Father that we might be forever freed from the penalty rightly due for our sins and our selfishnesses.  We can see that never for  moment in the deepest depths of His passion was Jesus separated in love and tenderness from Mary His suffering Mother. The bonds of love united them so strongly to each other that each felt the suffering of the other. And through Mary we too can be firmly united to our Lord whether He is visible before us or hidden from our sight. Love acknowledges no barriers of time, place or distance. And we can see that at the end of this dreadful journey, through the torment and the Cross awaits the Resurrection and the Ascension, Jesus goes before us and we can rejoice that He will not leave us bereft but extends to us the sure and certain hope that one day we shall accompany Him.

The Song of Ascent on our lips is the one that David sung but it is of David's Son that we think while we sing. And the Zion to which we ascend is a holier mountain and a more pure city. There we will find rest for our souls. 


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