DUCCIO di Buoninsegna
Christ Before King Herod (scene 14)
Meditation Of The Acts In The House Of Herod
Herod, when he saw Jesus, rejoiced much, for he was desirous a long time to see him, because he had heard many things of him, and he hope to see some sign done by him: And he examined him with many questions: but he answered nothing unto him.
Consider first, that this Herod never came unto Christ, never heard his words, nor never saw his miracles; but yet he knew many things of him by the report of others. Wherefore he was glad, that he had occasion to see and behold him; but he was not moved with hope or desire of salvation, but with a desire to see some sign. Thou mayest learn first, what this King thought our Lord to be; an Inchantera Juggler, a Fool. Secondly, that the custom of worldly men, is, more willingly to hear new things, which may delight, then good things, which may profit.
Consider 2. That Christ admireth not the outward pomp and royal dignity, but beholdeth the beauty & foulness of the heart; neither would he vouchsafe to speak unto him, seeing he expected no profit thereby. Learn thou 1. Not to esteem too much these outward shows: for in the future examination of the Judge the humble poor man shall be better esteemed, then the proud rich man. 2. No to utter thy words in vain, but to direct thy speaches always to some good purpose, remembering, that in the day of judgment thou shalt render an account of every idle word. 3. To flatter none, to avoid ostentation, not to expose Religious and Holy things to be laughed at, not to abuse the Scriptures or divine ceremonies to jests and profane matters.
Consider 3. What questions were propounded to Christ by Herod, to wit, unprofitable & curious: Perhaps, whether he were John Baptist; whether he could destroy & restore the Temple; & whether his Father in times past killed the Infants for his cause. Do thou ask profitable things of our Lord, & pray him to answer to thy questions for thy profit & salvation of thy soul.
And the Chief Priests and the Scribes stood constantly accusing him; Herod despised him with his Army, and mocked him, clothing him in a white garment, and sent him back to Pilate.
Consider first, that Christ suffered 4 things in this King’s Palace. For 1. He was grievously & constantly accused by the Priests. Secondly he was despised and mocked by Herod. Thirdly he was evil entreated by the malepert soldiers, no less then by the Servants in the house of Caiaphas. Fourthly, he was clothed in a white or bright garment, in sign of an affected Kingdom, or of folly, as one that was able to say nothing before the King in his own defence.
Consider secondly that Herod was offended at the silence of Christ, less then the Priests, who pronounced him guilty of death, but more then Pilate, who by his silence admired the prudent gravity of our Lord. Thou mayst learn that by the same causes some fall more grievously then others & those most grievously, which are in highest estate and calling. Pilate was a lay Gentile; Herod a layman, but a Jew; Caiaphas, the high Priest of the Jews.
Consider thirdly, that Christ is a king, but such a one, as the world knoweth not, but doth accuse laugh at, and despise. By these irrisions our Lord deserved for himself to be exalted above all Kings, and for us, that we should be endued with true wisdom, be made immortal Kings in the Kingdom of Heaven, & be clothed with the white garments of immortality. Rejoice therefore, if thou dost suffer irrision and persecution with Christ for justice, because thine is the Kingdom of Heaven: And beware, least Christ be mocked by thee, if thou dost contemn the poor, and his Servants, & neglect his Sacraments, words, & Commandments. Lastly do thou accompany thy spouse of thy Soul, clothed in this scornful garment, in his journey to Pilate's house: mark what scoffing he heard; observe his eyes, & what countenance he showed; & pray unto him with thy whole heart, that thou maist be a fool unto the world, so thou be accounted wise unto Christ.
IIIAnd Herod and Pilate, were made friends in that day: for they were enemies before, one to another.
Consider first a double mystery. 1. That wicked men agree together against Christ and his followers: Heretics impugning the Church; and the Devils vexing the just man. The other, that the death of Christ made peace between the Jews and the Gentiles; and so that the first and principal Office of the passion of our Lord was to bring and maintain Peace. Therefore presently after his Resurrection, in his first & second meeting, he said to his Disciples, Peace be unto you. He would, that we should have peace with God, to whom he paid the price of our sins; with our own conscience, which he delivered from sin, and filled with inward grace; and with our neighbors. Whom he commandeth us to love, having infused his divine love into our hearts. As often therefore as thou feelest inward war within thyself; as often as thou seest that thou hast lost peace with God; as often as thou shalt perceive thy neighbor angry at thee, or dost experience his hatred against thee: Presently turn thyself to the Cross of Christ, as to him, which is thy only true Mediator, and will restore thee unto peace with all men.
Consider secondly, (in that day) that is, the very same day: That thou mayest learn how easy it is for our Lord to make peace, and to pacify minds, that are most incensed, and to help thee in thy greatest afflictions, although there be no human means. Pray therefore unto God, that he will bring tranquility unto the Christian commonwealth, cease the troubles of war, and give a constant Peace unto his Church.