The Passion of Christ
By Fr. Daniel E. Doctor – The reading of the Passion reminds us, calls us, to remember that the death of our Savior is one of the saddest stories of all time. It is a terrible example of our sinful human nature and what we are capable of doing to each other. As Thomas Hobbes, the great English Philosopher, once observed, “life in this world is cruel, brutish, and short.”
This too, we see in the history of Christ, a tragic story about the death of a 33-year-old carpenter. It is depressing and a horrible thing to witness such injustice against the innocent, a fake trial, unreliable witnesses, false testimony, cruel treatment for committing no real crime. This, the killing of a blameless man, an execution of the Truth, a silencing of Goodness and Beauty.
There was in Him no stately bearing to make us look at Him, nor appearance that would attract us to Him. A man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned and we held him in no esteem. Yet, it was our infirmities that He bore, our suffering that He endured, as one smitten by God and afflicted.
In the words of the Prophet speaking for Christ, “I have not rebelled, have not turned back…I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard, my face I did not shield for the buffets and spitting.”
A horrible thing to witness, a human person, a man…tortured, mocked, rejected, bloody and bruised, ultimately alone with no one to speak for him, no one to protected him, to stand up for him, scourged, beat up, abused and discarded as worthless.
God our Savior wants all men to be saved and come to know the Truth. And the truth is this...that this man Jesus Christ was sent by His Almighty Father. The Divine Son of God in the flesh, to give, to sacrifice, to offer Himself, His body, His soul as a ransom for many.
So, Christ was pierced for our offenses, crushed by our sins, upon Him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by His stripes we were healed. We have all gone astray, each following His own way. But the Lord laid upon Him the guilt of us all. Though He was harshly treated, He submitted and opened not His mouth.
But Jesus, the afflicted one, He knew what the Psalms said of Him in prophecy, for “the Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. And so He was silent and opened not His mouth.”
This is what sin has done to our Lord, your sin and mine, ultimately beating a man to His death. And if that wasn’t enough, after His death we run Him through with a spear and walk away. A job well done. . . God is dead. . . !!
Christ suffered for us and left us an example, to have us follow in His footsteps. He did no wrong, no deceit was found in His mouth. When He was insulted, He returned no insult. When He was made to suffer, He did not counter with threats. Instead, He delivered Himself up to the One who judges justly. In His Own Body He brought your sins to the Cross, that all of us, dead to sin, could live in accord with God’s will.
This passion, this Passover of our Christ is a horribly sad story about a Father who so loved the world, who gave us His only begotten Son and we murdered Him. Strong and sober words, but the Truth nonetheless. No one can pride themselves into thinking that they are innocent of this crime done against the Only Son of God. The level of our own ingratitude alone to our Lord who gave us life and freedom, then we use these gifts to kill His Son. And yet even in the midst of all of this, He still continually calls us to repentance and forgiveness because “by His wounds you were healed.”
But our time here on earth is not eternal and it runs out for all of us. Wouldn’t it be wise and prudent of us to be grateful now and turn our lives over to Him, instead of waiting? As St. Augustine said, “long have I waited to love you.” But why have we waited? What benefit can there be in waiting to love God? Waiting to turn our lives completely over to Him. . .?
Scripture warns us, “No one makes a fool of God. A man will only reap what He sows. If he sows in the field of the flesh, he will reap a harvest of corruption; but if his seed ground is the Spirit; he will reap everlasting life.”
The message of the Cross is complete absurdity to those who are headed for ruin, but to us who are experiencing salvation it is the power of God. Scripture says, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and thwart the cleverness of the clever. God’s folly is wiser than men and His weakness more powerful than men. God chose those who the world considers absurd to shame the wise.”
The Great Grace of Charity
This is a great grace that the virtue of charity can bring to us, if we live it. This virtue of charity gives us clarity in knowing and serving God; that makes the wise and the powerful ashamed; and exposes the thoughts of this world as absurd, imprudent, and foolish.
Remember, Charity means that we must aid, help, and assist our neighbor. Think of the story of the “Good Samaritan.” Charity means to go out of our way to show our neighbor kindness, to be tolerant and compassionate, “to suffer with,” as Saint Pope John Paul II reminded us, to be “generous, sympathetic, and understanding.”
True Christian Charity is the willingness to judge others in a tolerant and favorable way, to give to others the benefit of the doubt, to show affection for, even friendship towards, to actively love.
Christ taught that as we grow in charity, as we pray and become more mature in our practice of the virtues, then we naturally grow in a deeper love of Him and our neighbor. Simply put, we are to pray, do good, and love. We do these three things, out of love for Jesus Christ, with the firm hope that our faith will bring us to unending love with God the Father. We also know that while we are in this life – we need to receive the sacraments frequently, with Confession and Holy Communion once a year as the minimum requirement, so that we continue to grow into what God created us to be. That is what real mature love is, and the only way our Lord ever uses the word, as a sacrifice for the sake of the other for the good of the other.
What the Church Needs
What the Church really needs today is what the saints knew it needed during their lives, and they lived it. It is what the Popes and Bishops of the past, knew it needed, who fought the evils of their day and protected their sheep with the same determination that a Father protects his family. This reminds me of Pope Francis, and his scandalous behavior when he publicly failed to truly shepherd the Church when he said “who am I to judge” when he should have said, “go and sin no more. . . .”
We all, deep down within us, truly know that what is good, true, and beautiful must be defended, protected, and cherished by someone who is willing to get into the fight for what is right. To put on the armor of faith and stand with Christ, His Angels, and Saints in defense of His Bride the Church.
What the Church needs is strong men, masculine men, who are willing to walk more closely the path of Christ by serving the Church as her spiritual fathers, as Her Captains in the great battle for souls, so that the next generation of Catholics will not be fatherless.
What the Church needs is strong men and women, who are consecrated in the Truth, willing to seek out and do the good: prepared by the Sacraments, educated in the “Science of the Saints,” invincible in their prayer life, willing to defend at every turn no matter the personal cost, and even die if need be in defense of Holy Mother Church. And with Christ, as our great crucified champion, our dying to our life of sin ultimately leads to everlasting life. . . where we are seen as the great heroes, saints, and martyrs of our time, following the Bridegroom of the Church, that Divine Lamb, wherever He goes. . . .