From the Gospel of St. John:
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would have fought that I might not be delivered to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from here." Pilate therefore said to him, "Thou art then a king?" Jesus answered, "Thou sayest it; I am a king. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"
And when he had said this, he went outside to the Jews again, and said to them, "I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you wish, therefore, that I release to you the king of the Jews?" They all therefore cried out again, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.
Pilate, then, took Jesus and had him scourged. (John 18:36-40, 19:1)
From St. Josemaría Escrivá:
Pilate speaks: It is your custom that I release one prisoner to you on the Pasch. Whom shall I set free, Barabbas —a thief jailed with others for a murder —or Jesus? (Matthew 27:17) —Put this man to death and release unto us Barabbas, cries the multitude, incited by their chief priests (Luke 23:18).
Pilate speaks again: What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ? (Matt 27:22) —Crucifige eum! Crucify Him!
Pilate, for the third time, says to them: Why, what evil has He done? I find no fault in Him that deserves death (Luke 23:22).
The clamour of the mob grows louder: Crucify Him, crucify Him! (Mark 15:14)
And Pilate, wishing to please the populace, releases Barabbas to them and orders Jesus to be scourged.
Bound to the pillar. Covered with wounds.
The blows of the lash sound upon His torn flesh, upon His undefiled flesh, that suffers for your sinful flesh. —More blows. More fury. Still more... It is the last extreme of human cruelty.
Finally, exhausted, they unbind Jesus. —And the body of Christ yields to pain and falls limp, broken and half dead.
You and I are unable to speak. —Words are not needed. —Look at Him, look at Him... slowly. After this... can you ever fear penance? (Holy Rosary, Scourging at the Pillar)
Jesus gave himself up for us in a holocaust of love. What about you, who are a disciple of Christ? You, a favored son of God; you, who have been ransomed at the price of the Cross; you too should be ready to deny yourself. So, no matter what situation we may find ourselves in, neither you nor I can ever allow ourselves to behave in a way that is selfish, materialistic, comfort-loving, dissipated or forgive me if I speak too candidly just plain stupid! If all you want is the esteem of your fellow men, and you long to be respected and appreciated, and you only seek a pleasant life, then you have strayed from the path... Only those who travel the rugged, narrow and austere path of tribulation are allowed to enter the city of the saints, there to rest and reign with the King for eternity (St Augustine, Sermo 85, 6 : PL 38,523).
You yourself must decide of your own free will to take up the cross; otherwise, your tongue may say that you are imitating Christ, but your actions will belie your words. That way, you will never get to know the Master intimately, or love him truly. It is really important that we Christians convince ourselves of this. We are not walking with Our Lord unless we are spontaneously depriving ourselves of many things that our whims, vanity, pleasure or self-interest clamour for. Not a single day should pass that has not been seasoned with the salt and grace of mortification; and, please get rid of the idea that you would then be miserable. What a sad little happiness you will have if you don't learn to overcome yourself, if you let your passions and fancies dominate and crush you, instead of courageously taking up your cross! (Friends of God, 129)
What does it matter that we stumble on the way, if we find in the pain of our fall the energy to pick ourselves up and go on with renewed vigour? Don't forget that the saint is not the person who never falls, but rather the one who never fails to get up again, humbly and with a holy stubbornness. If the book of Proverbs says that the just man falls seven times a day (John 13:23), who are we poor creatures, you and I, to be surprised or discouraged by our own weaknesses and falls! We will be able to keep going ahead, if only we seek our fortitude in him who says: Come to me all you who labour and are burdened and I will give you rest (John 12:1-3). Thank you, Lord, quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea (John 12:5), because you, and you alone, my God, have always been my strength, my refuge and my support.
If you really want to make progress in the interior life, be humble. Turn constantly and confidently to the help of Our Lord and of his Blessed Mother, who is your Mother too. No matter how much the still open wound of your latest fall may hurt, embrace the cross once more and, calmly, without getting upset, say: With your help, Lord, I'll fight so as not to be held back. I'll respond faithfully to your invitations. I won't be afraid of steep climbs, nor of the apparent monotony of my daily work, nor of the thistles and loose stones on the way. I know that I am aided by your mercy and that, at the end of the road, I will find eternal happiness, full of joy and love for ever and ever.
Later, in the same dream, our writer discovers a third path. It too is narrow and, like the second, it is both steep and rugged. Those who travel it walk solemnly and regally in the midst of countless hardships. Yet they end up falling over the same terrible precipice that the first road leads to. This is the path of the hypocrites, people who lack a right intention, who are motivated by a false zeal and pervert divine works by mixing them with their own selfish and temporal ambitions. It is folly to undertake a hard and difficult task just to be admired; to put great effort into keeping God's commandments with but an earthly reward in mind. Whoever practises virtue for the sake of some human benefit is like a person who sells off a priceless heirloom for just a few coins. He could have won Heaven, but he is content instead with fleeting praise... That is why they say that the hopes of hypocrites are like a spiders web: so much effort goes into weaving it, and in the end it is blown away by a puff of the wind of death (Romans 15:26-27). (Friends of God, 131)