HERE IS A PAINTING (1910) titled Christ Before Pilate, by Jacek Malczewski. Pilate is a young man, diddling with something, smiling slightly. Perhaps he is pondering the warning his wife whispered to him, not to have anything to do with Jesus because of what she's learned in a dream.
Jesus is in the foreground of the painting. His tired head! His night in jail was sleepless. He has been shamed in the prison-madhouse where bullies rule. His bound hands are unable to wipe away the sting of spit, sweat and the blood trickling down from the wild crown of thorns pressed into his head by the uncensored soldiers who have been playing Make Believe King. Perhaps the gift of tears washed his eyes.
But the face of Jesus is always beautiful because it is the face of humility, patience and gentleness. His face is beautiful because it is the face of solidarity with all who suffer degradation and disfigurement. Saint Paul writes:
"Never forget the nearness of your Lord. Don't worry over anything whatever. Whenever you pray tell God every detail of your needs in thankful prayer, and the peace of God will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds." (Philippians 4: 5-7)
This is the way of Jesus - always aware of God's closeness, surrendering everything to God. "Your will be done." Those who live this way know deep happiness, not the world's short-lived happiness but a deep peace of soul.
In the Amazon forest there are lepers whose disfigured faces are beautiful, revealing souls at peace with God and others. When the photographer entered the room of this leprous woman who has lost her legs and fingers, he said, "Good morning, how are you today?" and she answered, "Very well, thank you!"