The preface for the Mass at the start of Lent refers to this “Joyful Season.” Many of us are startled by this reference. For most, Lent has always been a season of sacrifice, of penance, a time when we focus on the Cross.

As you look at the Cross, did you ever ask yourself the question, “Why did Jesus die like this?” If He had been a mere man, it would have made sense. He could not avoid it. He was up against impossible odds, and the cards were stacked against Him. But, it is different for the Son of God.

He did not have to become like us and be born into our world. He did not have to get tired and thirsty or dusty and angry. He did not have to take insults from His own creatures. He did not have to sweat blood in a garden and beg his Father, “Don’t let me die.” He did not have to be condemned like a common criminal. He did not have to die.

Why then did he die? A clue comes from God’s own book from the Gospel of John -“God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, and that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” St. Paul says in amazement, “He loved me and gave Himself for me.” Yes, Jesus did it all because He loved you. If you were the only person in the world, He would have died for you.

But then you might say, “Couldn’t God have discovered a different way, a way less difficult than death on Calvary?” Couldn’t God have simply forgiven us and asked only that we be sorry for having offended Him? If this were not enough for Divine Justice and if God’s son had to somehow touch our earth in person, why didn’t He come as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Why did He have to become human like us? Why did he have to experience meekness, fear and weakness? If God, the Father, wanted Him to die, why couldn’t He have died in bed and died with dignity? Why ask Him to die in a bloody disgrace, mocked by the world for which he was dying and the world He created? Frankly, I do not know. I suspect no one knows, save the God who invented the Passion. But it certainly got our attention…

 

13 thoughts on “Third Week of Lent – Focus on the Cross

  1. I remember back in the late eighties having watched Pastor Ben Hayden, who was a very pious, sober and congenial man, speaking about this very point about the need for our Blessed Lord Jesus to stoop down to the lowest depths in order to save us. He coined the phrase, “it had to be an inside job.” I’ll make a somewhat poor & perfunctory analogy here, but when I am very sorrowful about my mother’s death a little more than three years ago from her affliction with bladder cancer, my consolation can only come from those people who have truly experienced the same grief, bereavement and disconsolation and who are willing-let me emphasize this very strongly-to participate in my agony. Two things must happen here, i.e., the person who is in agony is in dire need of assistance whether he admits it or not and the one who provides the necessary alleviation must recognize that the love that the Lord has given him in the first place is sorely needed and expediently poured out to cover the wounds. Is that not what our Lord Jesus has done for us in the most ineffable, incomprehensible and divine way? A love that kills death when it subjects itself to that same death is the “inside job” that our Lord undertook for the salvation of the people whom he had created.

  2. 0n the Easter Vigil in 1984, my wife, Bonnie became a Catholic through the RCIA process and thus started our journey beinging involved in the Catholic faith as lector, extraordinary ministers, choir members and working with altar servers. I became an altar server in 1984 and when then Pope John Paul II allowed women and girls became altar servers in the early 1990’s, Bonnie became came an altar server and we have served as husband and wife ever since. During Lent I would carry the cross and two servers would carry candles for the Way of the Cross on Friday evenings in Lent. In 1985 0n the 2nd Sunday in Lent, my little brother committed suicide. The stations of the cross took on a different meaning the rest of Lent that year. The following year, my dad died on Easter Sunday, March 30, 1986. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Jesus and Mary, I have a different prospective of what death and the resurrection truly mean. By walking these stations each Lenten Season has helped me understand just how much Jesus loves us and wants us to be in Paradis with him.

  3. We are truly blessed because Jesus is with us always, until the end of the age! Because of our human frailty we often forget this but we must always remember that He is with us always!

  4. Jesus died this terrible death in order to not only to demonstrate God’s love for us, but also, and also to set the example for us. We must pass it on. We must humble ourselves and follow through on his teachings. I am 78 years old now, and my life has been a gift from God, a gift I give to others. The older I get the more I understand that everything I have and everything I can give and do for others is his gift to me and to the world. I also have come to understand that the act of self-surrender by Jesus on the cross is what we are called to do. It is wonderful to understand how much God loves us in the person of Jesus, but it is even more wonderful when we can enter into God’s presence after our final self-surrender and hear those words, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ” Matt 25:24)

  5. I have been low these past two weeks but your message raised my spirits. Thank you.

  6. Agree with Anthony DeLuco! Your writings are inspirational Fr Bob. You help to renew our faith, just as
    Jesus did when he was on the earth….

  7. IF JESUS HAD NOT DIED WHAT WOULD OUR LIFE BE WORTH? JESUS DIED TO SAVE SINNERS LIKE ME
    THANK YOU JESUS FOR DYING FOR ME.

  8. He told the people of His time who asked for a sign that Nivenah was given a sign, and there was something (someone) greater in their time. I guess it comes down to belief which we’re told can move mountians. Do we believe that? We don’t need to SEE Jeus to ‘see the light’ – just let Him fill your soul and hang on tight…He’ll lead the way without popping into physical body again.

  9. Cecilia, He is with us always! Many times we do not feel Him but there are those special times that we do. How blessed and joyful those experiences! We will never fully understand God and His great love for us. His ways are so much greater than our ways. We are but His creatures and can only try to understand and learn by His ways. All the martyrs did and they attained their eternal rewards. Do not let the world interfere with your beautiful love of Christ.

  10. The Lord is with us always.Just in our daily living . What a beautiful
    World he has give us. He died so we could live.

  11. Your reflections and writings are so inspirational, you are God’s gift to us
    Thank you. Father

  12. He returns each mass through the Eucharist. The true body blood divinity and Soul of our Lord.

  13. Easter will always be the saddest period in my faith life… while spring bursts through from winter and all is blooming and uplifting, the death of Jesus shadows the joy.. I have a son. I would give my life for my son, I cannot fathom God giving us his Son for us to slaughter. I can’t even imagine the barbaric “celebrations” that kill and slaughter innocent animals. Am I crazy? Justifications and trying to make sense of the senseless is another void. I love my God.. Jesus more than life itself, but needless pain, needless deaths make no sense to me. How I wish Jesus would return to each of us.. before our lives expire and we follow into the unknown; I wish He would come back and help us all see the light of God and give us understanding. Will He return only at our death ?

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