There’s a fine old hymn I learned in college:
Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne,
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.
And it seems clear that we are to do so by living for Him, by leading lives that redound to His glory. (That’s an interesting word, “redound”. I’m not sure I’ve seen it in any other phrase.)
Not coincidentally, I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries the other day, and came to the Third Sorrowful Mystery, the Crowning with Thorns. There are a number of things I reflect on during that mystery: the blindness of the mockers; their willingness to slap and mock and injure one who might well be innocent (for all they know); the weight of the sins of the world on Christ’s brow as the thorns sink in; and my contribution to those sins, and my culpability in Christ’s crowning.
And then I thought of the forces of ISIS in the Middle East, and the violent atrocities they have been committing in the name of Allah the Merciful—indeed, at the command of Allah the Merciful, or so they claim.
It is necessary to say here that I’m well aware that many other Muslims have spoken out against these atrocities, from world leaders, to the neighbors of the Christians of Mosul to a friend of mine from high school who assures me that what ISIS is doing is entirely contrary to the teachings of Muhammad. I understand that; and in my reflections today I’m not so much interested in whether or not the ISIS forces are good Muslims, but rather in what they are doing.
And what they are doing, it seems to me, is crowning the Almighty with a thorny crown. They claim Him as their Lord and as the inspiration for their actions, and so crown Him; but it isn’t the right sort of crown. It isn’t a crown of glory, born of holiness and good works, but a crown of thorns and blood, of destroyed homes and churches, of refugees and starving children and the silence of the dead.
They have set up a bloodthirsty idol, and identified it with the Almighty, and they have worshipped it with death and destruction in the name of the Lord of Creation, and so crowned Him with a bloody crown of thorns.
May God have mercy on their souls, and may He bring them to repentance; and may He save their victims and stymie their advances and bring their evil works to nothing.
And on our part: let us be careful not to do the same as they. Let us examine the crowns with which we crown our Lord, and see what idols we have called by His name—idols not of blood, perhaps, but of hatred, and name-calling, and back-biting, and gossip; and let us cast them down.
And may God have mercy our our souls, and may He bring us to repentance.
And may we crown Him with crowns of glory.