The 10th Station

My innocent Jesus, by the torment you suffered in being stripped of your garments, help me to strip myself of all attachment for the things of earth, that I may place all my love in You who are so worthy of my love. 

- Reflection on the 10th Station as composed by St. Alphonsus Ligouri

A couple of weeks ago I spent some time praying through the Stations of the Cross and was struck by something that had a profound personal impact on me.

Jesus was scourged, His body shredded. If you’ve seen the Passion of the Christ, then you have an idea of how brutally His body was cut open. Afterward, he was given clothes to wear. Over the hours following, the bloody wounds would have stuck the coarse cloth to His body and then started to scab over. 

In the past, I had typically seen the 10th Station, that of the moment where Jesus was stripped of those garments, as being mainly about humiliation. I saw it as another attempt to bring Jesus low, to debase and ridicule Him. But, this time, something new struck me.

I can’t imagine how painful it must have been to have those garments ripped from Him in that moment, tearing those wounds which had begun to heal open once again and adding new pain, sharp and fresh, to everything else he was going through. Yes, I’m sure it didn’t hurt as much as the fiery agony of the initial scourging, but there was another pain here that was different, less fiery, but maybe more agonizing. It was the pain of a wound being reopened that had been thought healed.

By the time He was eventually stripped of those garments in that moment at the foot of the cross, His wounds must have almost entirely sealed over and begun the process of healing… But with cloth stuck through them. The intensity of those wounds must have started to fade as they scabbed over, crusted into the cloth, and I imagine it must have brought some amount of relief at first, having those wounds no longer be open to the air and the elements. Then, they were torn open, and Jesus was plunged back into the pain that had begun to fade from His consciousness. 

We can all relate to this I think. We have struggles that we think we have experienced some victory over, only to have them crop up again, maybe even fiercer than they had been before! It’s a hard thing to experience, and one that can even lead to despair, losing hope of ever being truly healed.

Yet, here’s the beautiful, painful truth.

Wounds like those of Jesus would never have been able to heal with cloth stuck in them in this way. Despite the relief that had begun to set in, despite the scabbing and what had seemed like healing, wounds like these need to be torn open once again - as painful as it may be - because it’s the only way for them to truly start to heal. They would have never healed quite right otherwise.

I have wounds that have never healed quite right; spiritual ones, emotional ones. Maybe they started to heal, but then I turned to other things to try to numb the pain. The abuse of food, Netflix, video games, or books; other sinful behaviour patterns; you name it. These things bring relief for a time, sure, but they don’t allow these deeper wounds to truly heal. 

These earthly things provide a convenient way to numb the pain, maybe even to the point that it starts to feel a little bit like healing - after all, it doesn’t hurt as bad as it used to anymore! But the truth is that as long as the wounds are trying to heal around these things that are stuck in the way, they won’t really heal.

Eventually, these things will need to be ripped away. The wounds will need to be torn open again, and it will hurt. Maybe it’ll hurt even worse than it did the first time, but you know what? 

Maybe that just means the Lord is healing it right.

-Graeme Vanden Dungen, NET Staff