A day when Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice. When He was abandoned by His followers, beaten, blindfolded, slapped, hit, punched, mocked, blasphemed, scourged, crowned with thorns, forced to carry a wooden cross, and allowed Himself to be nailed to that cross.
Because He loves us, plain and simple. He loves us so much that He was willing to be punished for our sins. Yours. Mine. His. Hers. Even that guy over there.
People who love each other do things like that, you know, sacrifice. Right?
Don’t you give up things for people you love? Don’t you go through great pains and sacrifices for others? Friends, neighbors, children, spouses? Haven’t there been times you’ve denied yourself of something you love to do for someone else?
I’ll bet you have.
Which is why I always wonder when I hear people say “I love Jesus” and there isn’t any sacrificing or self denial.
– “Get up early to go to Mass? Yeah, I don’t think so.”
– “What? You want me to fast today? I’ll die!”
– “They used to abstain from meat on Fridays in the old days, but we don’t have to do that anymore.”
And on and on it goes.
But the obvious question seems to be, how much do you really love Jesus if you aren’t willing to make sacrifices for Him or for others?
I’m not trying to launch some kind of guilt trip here, but it just seems to me that if we’re going to say we love Our Lord, we could at least try to show it, you know?
I’ve seen people who can stay up all night and party, denying themselves sleep, and not think anything of it. I know of others who put themselves through grueling exercise routines day after day without complaint. Still others deny themselves certain kinds of food for a diet so they can have a ‘killer bod.’ But when you ask these same people to do fifteen minutes of spiritual reading each day, they practically go into fits telling you how they don’t have time or it’s just too hard to make that kind of commitment or that they don’t want to turn into some kind of ‘Jesus freak.’
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said “And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
So basically, if you’re not willing to take up your cross (sacrifices, self-denial, the travails of daily life), you’re not worthy of Jesus. Doesn’t that sound horrible? Who wouldn’t want to be found worthy by Jesus Christ?
But just what is Jesus asking of you? To be scourged to the point where you can see the bones of your body through the tears in the flesh? Crowned with thorns that go through your skull and pierce your brain? Having your hands and feet nailed to a cross?
No. Not even close.
He is asking that we show our love for Him by loving Him more than anyone or anything else on this earth. And that could mean fasting, abstaining from meat on certain days, giving up a dessert, praying more, complaining less, even giving up people or things that are not good for us.
To me, there’s something scary about not being considered worthy of Jesus Christ. And if making sacrifices is something we have to do to show our love for Jesus, then why wouldn’t we?
And what better day to show that love than on this Good Friday… and every day after.