On the Signification of the White Robe in which Our Lord Was Arrayed

Christ before the High Priest
about 1617, Gerrit van Honthorst

A Lenten Reflection for Thursday after the Third Sunday in Lent from Holy Cross Publications


My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

On the Signification of the White Robe in which Our Lord Was Arrayed.

To-day, my soul, imagine that you see the Saviour arrayed in the white robe of the fool, dragged through the streets of Jerusalem, accompanied by the rabble with derisive, mocking laughter, since they deem the supposed imbecile to be a legitimate butt for their coarse jests and low ribaldry. Think how the angels must have hidden their faces in sorrow and horror at seeing their Creator treated with such contumely. You, my soul, while you fix your attention on your Lord, clothed in the fool’s garment, consider the mystic meaning of that white robe.

1st. The white robe was a token of His innocence. To the outward eye it was a garb of contempt, and such the enemies of our Lord intended it to be when they put it on Him. Yet unwittingly by that white garment they bore testimony to His innocence. The tribunal of Herod was the second judgment-seat before which they had dragged Him, and as yet not the slightest wrongdoing was proved against Him. Hence He had every right to wear the robe of innocence. And yet that white garment, in the sight of God a sign of innocence, was in the eyes of our Lord’s adversaries an object of contempt. Herein lies a lesson which you, my soul, will do well to lay to heart. In every age the sacred garb of innocence has been regarded with scorn by the world. He who desires to walk before God with a clean heart must at all times encounter the contempt and scorn of the world. Now because the white robe of innocence is at the same time a fool’s garment, many have thrown it off; for alas! not all—and you perhaps are among the number—can persuade themselves to submit to be dragged as Jesus was through the streets, an object of contempt to the populace.

2d. The white robe was a token of our pardon. In olden times the custom prevailed of giving one’s vote for or against an accused person by means of white and black stones. The black signified his guilt, the white on the contrary his innocence, and acquitted him of the crime for which he was to be punished. How gladly we behold the white color of the robe upon our Lord’s shoulders! To me it is indeed a joyful sight; He bears the weight of my sins, it is they which brought Him before the judgment-seat, and now for my consolation I see the white robe which announces to me that for His sake I am pardoned and set free. The first time that this was accomplished was in holy baptism, when my soul was arrayed in the white robe our Lord purchased for me; the second time was when I took my vows, and received it spiritually. Reflect therefore to-day in all seriousness what means will be most efficacious, how you had better apply yourself to keep this white garment clean from every stain, for only by so doing can you hope that it will be for you an earnest of future glory.

3d. The white robe was a token of our Lord’s celestial glory, and see that it is the same for you. In His transfiguration upon Mount Thabor His raiment became white and glistening, and St. John in his vision saw all the elect souls who followed the immaculate Lamb in the realms of celestial glory clothed in white robes. Observe this attentively: It was to obtain this robe of glory for us hereafter that our Lord passed through the streets of Jerusalem in a robe which in the eyes of the populace was one of ignominy and folly. God grant that He may not have made that painful journey in vain for you! Wherefore let it be your delight here on earth to wear the garb of the Priest, the rough habit of the monk, contemned as it is by the world, irksome as it may sometimes prove to human nature. For if you do but take heed that this dress—in the eyes of the world foolishness—is in the sight of God a mark of innocence, at any rate of innocence gained by penance, then be assured that out of that robe which will moulder in the grave with your mortal remains, the angels will weave for you the spotless robe of heavenly glory, and for your short passage as an object of contempt through the streets of the earthly Jerusalem you will receive rich compensation on high in the courts of the heavenly Jerusalem.


My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

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1 Response to On the Signification of the White Robe in which Our Lord Was Arrayed

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    Wonderful meditation on innocence and the white robe!


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