Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jesus Christ ~ King of the Universe

Hieronymous Bosch 1495 ~ The Mockery of Christ

The world feels very sick these days. Perhaps it has always been so but our vast media access lays it out for us graphically in 24-7 news cycles. The 15th century painter, Hieronymous Bosch, understood the world's sickness. Look carefully.

The fellow on the upper left who holds the mocking thorn-crown over the head of Jesus: is that an arrow through his hat? Maybe arrows are his weapon of choice. He wears metal gloves and gauntlets. All armored up, he's a tough guy, (or at least he wants us to think he is.) 

And then on the upper right there's another fellow who's carrying a big stick and wearing a metal breast plate. Maybe this armor symbolizes that he's got to protect himself against the love of Jesus. He leans into Jesus' ear. I imagine his breath is foul as he whispers secrets or threats.

The lascivious old man at the bottom left has placed his dirty hand on the naked knee of Jesus. And the man across from him is poised to rip open the shirt of Jesus, which would be the first exposing of his heart. 

In the passion account Jesus' heart is revealed to the world in layers: first the nakedness, then the words of forgiveness and finally the piercing of his side and the spraying of the world with blood and water from his opened heart.  All of this in a world of daily indignities. 

It is the Feast of Jesus Christ, King of  the Universe ~
Jesus in the Resurrection
loving the trillion, trillion galaxies,
and the little universe of
each human mind,
and the universe of our
blue and green planet-home,
its forests and coral reefs,
the weather, soil and seasons,
the universe of bird song and great mammals,
of insects, leaves and flowers.

And some priests will dress up
in metallic gold today,
and some parishes will
rent a trumpeter
and they'll sing about
crowns and crowns and
the lamb upon the throne.

But maybe
we shouldn't this year
with the plane just exploding
and children falling from the 
sky in flames,
the Sinai strewn
with their beach clothes
and toys.

And the city 
of Saints Genevieve and Denis ~
now a city of bullets and bombs,
of wounds, 
and fear.

And what does this mean ~
that Denis is invoked against diabolical possession.
And the banks of flowers and
tea lights - fragile flames of
hope and desire.

And the double bombing of Beirut ~
for its beauty called
the Paris of the Middle East ~
is media-lost in its twin atrocities.

And leaders wonder 
how and who to punish.
And someone somewhere
in a suit and silk tie ponders:
Who will buy
missiles from me?
in the new depth of 
conflict and hate.
And men who hide in the sand
with covered faces
shout ugly praises to God.

How did all of this come about?

And the rhetoric soars:
Who's to be excluded (even young orphans).
And the politicians can't see how to
reconcile with Jesus who said,
"Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them."

And many of our thoughts are
shameful thoughts,
and shameful thoughts
should seldom be expressed, 
or at least carefully expressed,
but surely not for all the world 
to hear on CNN.

Jesus, with the thorn-crown 
hovering over your head,
your mind already crammed with all of
this piercing universe-trouble and grief,
would you give us fresh insight...

(Americans are such talkers, you know,

we can sell anyone anything,
even the Brooklyn Bridge
and how to make a deal.)

But would you teach us
how to sell peace,
how to sell reconciliation,
how to sell kindness,
how to sell humility. 

Jesus ~ sell us the Kingdom of God!


  1. Christopher PerticoneNovember 21, 2015 at 7:10 AM

    O sweet Jesus, in your pain and suffering, you teach us. If only this world would listen, your universe would be free of all these evil things.

  2. Yes! And first of all and for my part, I must get all the bombs and missiles and grenades of hate and suspicion and bitterness out of my own heart. Then the reclamation of all things has begun! Thank you for writing - God bless tomorrow's feast day for all the world!

  3. Jesus is surrounded by evil in this painting as evil surrounds us at every turn today. But Jesus faced his tormentors and his message and lessons of love thy neighbor live on today. The more of us who can remember this in our own lives, the better off we will be as a community. I try to look for acts of kindness so that I know there is hope for us. No act is too small in the eyes of God.

  4. This is well said and so relevant for today. As our prayers and offerings to God should be. Jesus, teach me to sell mercy for all, even those who seem to be the roots of our troubles. Amen!

  5. This brings the Feast of Christ the king to a new level for me. An awareness that I didn't have before. Jesus really is present in our lives today even in all the terrible acts of hatred and violence. We need to listen more with open hearts and minds so that we can be His messengers.

  6. This helps to focus us on the things that should matter to us. Not fancy vestments and talk of crowns.

  7. If we follow in the way Jesus shows us, we can help create a new social order between people in which everyone feels they have worth and dignity. Jesus’ way is that of justice, love and peace. Rather than emphasize power and control, he invites us to unite ourselves with him and to receive in faith what he offers us. To hear and follow his Word is to hear the voice of God and the truth he bears witness to by his life, death and resurrection. While the world would rather think small God’s kingdom in Christ is open and expansive inviting all to taste and see the goodness of the Lord.