It came out of nowhere, and was undeserved.
No, we’re not talking about actor Will Smith’s slap of comedian Chris Rock that overshadowed the Academy Awards on March 27 and was a major news story and social media topic for days after.
We’re drawing attention to the first slap of Jesus.
“Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him,” reads the Gospel of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ appearance before the Sanhedrin on the night of his betrayal and arrest.
The Passion according to St. Luke, which will be read at Masses on Palm Sunday, gives this account: “The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him. They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’”
The slaps were only the beginning. They led to a scourging, the crown of thorns, the carrying of the cross, the nails, and our Savior’s death. For you. For me.
That first slap of Jesus was not broadcast around the world. But as we hear the account anew during this Holy Week, it should shock us infinitely more than the actions of a Hollywood actor. Let us feel its sting as we journey with Jesus to Calvary . . . and on to Easter glory. — Thomas J. Dermody