There are many steps in making the Illustrated Rosary books that I made. But one of the most important tasks of making the books is picking out the scripture passages that precede each mystery.
After all, the common accusation that is often lobbed at the Rosary by those who hate this devotion is that it’s not based in scripture. So, I wanted to make it absolutely clear that this devotion not only is a scriptural prayer, but it’s deeply rooted in scripture. And I wanted to help you meditate on this scripture by putting an in-depth scriptural passage in front of every single decade.
This was admittedly a bit tricky for the Assumption and the Coronation of Mary, which are based on biblical prophecies from the Old Testament and thus are harder to find. But, it was also tricky to find a scripture passage talking about the Scourging at the Pillar!
Here is the most substantive gospel passage that I found:
15Then Peter said to him in reply, “Explain [this] parable to us.”
And yet, there is such a rich art tradition for this pivotal event of the Passion! Just look at this picture that was made over 700 years ago:
In this painting, Jesus is tied to a pillar while two men whip Him. The two men who torture Christ appear to be absorbed in the act of torturing Christ, their faces tight with a grimace. Christ, on the other hand, has a sorrowful look on His face and is looking directly at us, inviting us to contemplate in the pain and suffering that He faced during His Passion.
While this painting is relatively tame, some artworks featuring the Scourging at the Pillar can indeed be gruesome, such as this one, reminding us of the pains that our Savior bore for us.
So, where does the scripture for the Scourging of the Pillar come from?
Prophecies from the Old Testament.
Check out this prophecy in Isaiah, made about 700 years before the birth of Christ:
1Who would believe what we have heard?To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?2He grew up like a sapling before him,like a shoot from the parched earth;He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye,no beauty to draw us to him.3He was spurned and avoided by men,a man of suffering, knowing pain,Like one from whom you turn your face,spurned, and we held him in no esteem.4Yet it was our pain that he bore,our sufferings he endured.We thought of him as stricken,struck down by God and afflicted,5But he was pierced for our sins,crushed for our iniquity.He bore the punishment that makes us whole,by his wounds we were healed.
Indeed, many of the artworks of the Scourging of the Pillar, I often avert my eyes. And perhaps you do as well. The crucifixion scene is something that is so ubiquitous in our Christian culture that we can often get used to the scene, even if it is a horrific scene. The Scourging at the Pillar? Not so much.
Honestly, it frightens me.
And yet, it is in this pivotal event in which Christ gained so many of the wounds that He bore for us. His Scourging critically weakened Him so that He needed help carrying the Cross later. It meant that, when He was later crowned with thorns, and presented to the crowd, bleeding and suffering, the marks that covered His Body caused the people to avert their eyes.
After all, to them, they believed that anybody who suffered that much and that badly could not be of God. After all, how could God let someone that He loved suffer so much?
It is a question that even we struggle today. How many times have we asked to God, “How can You let us suffer so much, if You love us?”
And yet, scripture says, “By His wounds, we were healed.”
He was not cursed — hardly! He chose to suffer, so that we may live. Those wounds that covered His Body helped save all of us.
May we love Christ all the more for His sacrifice in His Sorrowful Passion. And, even if we shudder when we are confronted by the extent of His suffering, may we never shy away from following Him.
This blog is part of a blog series about meditations of the Rosary, in honor for October, which is the month dedicated to the Rosary! This artwork, as well as many others, are available in my book, The Sorrowful Mysteries, which allows you to pray the Rosary prayer by prayer, with each prayer illustrated with gorgeous religious art. If you would like to learn more about the books, click here!