Posts Tagged ‘Sacrifice’

This is a post about the three days of Easter weekend. I’m a little late to talk about Good Friday, and a little early to talk about Easter Sunday, so perhaps this is the perfect time to take all three days together (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). Man of Sorrows

“Man lorenzetti” by Pietro Lorenzetti – Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_lorenzetti.jpg#/media/File:Man_lorenzetti.jpg

Good Friday

What exactly is so good about Good Friday? Surely this must be sarcasm…we couldn’t possibly look at the day on which Jesus Christ was mocked, spit upon, hit, whipped, impaled through the head with a crown of thorns, crushed under the weight of a cross, nailed to that cross, and thereby condemned to an unspeakably painful, humiliating, and dehumanizing public death, and call it anything but horrible, right?

As always, context is important. Let’s look at two examinations conducted alongside Christ’s Passion. Herod's Temple“Jerus-n4i” by Juan R. Cuadra – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jerus-n4i.jpg#/media/File:Jerus-n4i.jpg

The first occurred in the Jerusalem Temple. It was the Feast of Passover, and the priests were examining the sacrificial lamb to ensure that it was “without blemish,” as Mosaic Law required (cf. Ex. 12:5). What-is-truth02“What-is-truth02” by Nikolai Ge – http://www.picture.art-catalog.ru/picture.php?id_picture=7515. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:What-is-truth02.jpg#/media/File:What-is-truth02.jpg

Meanwhile, Pontius Pilate carefully interrogated Christ, and found no guilt in Him. Though he did not know it, Pilate was performing a similar function to that of the Temple priests: He was examining the true Lamb, and was to find Him truly without fault; the latter made Him fit for sacrifice on the Cross, even while His innocence made Him undeserving of death.

What do we see in the bloody animal sacrifices of the Old Testament? Essentially, we see the ugliness of sin and the painful, difficult work required for our redemption. And in the Mystery of the Passion and Death of Our Lord, which fulfills all sacrifices, we see the ugliness of sin and the pain of redemption in the most brutally unadulterated light…right alongside the unfathomable depth of Divine Mercy.

On Good Friday, God Himself entered personally into the heart of our darkness and dysfunction, bringing light even into the darkest of places and, as the Liturgy tells us, “fashioning a remedy out of death itself.” Rather than orchestrating our salvation from a safe distance, He entered into our pain and sorrows right along with us, and even bore the burden of our guilt upon His innocent shoulders so that we might be justified.

That is what’s so good about Good Friday. Holy Saturday

“Cristo yacente Gregorio Fernandez”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 es via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cristo_yacente_Gregorio_Fernandez.jpg#/media/File:Cristo_yacente_Gregorio_Fernandez.jpg

Holy Saturday

Okay – now we get to a more timely reflection. Today, we commemorate the day on which Jesus Christ rested in the tomb. He was laid in the tomb immediately after the crucifixion, and remained there all the next day.

That “next day” was the Sabbath, and according to Scripture it “was a solemn one” (John 19:31).

Though separated from His human soul, Christ’s body (along with His soul) remained united to His Divine Person. Therefore, it can truly be said that God Himself rested in the earth; and therefore, in turn, it can also truly be said that He rested in His creation on the Sabbath (cf. Gen. 2: 2-3).

Hence we have the definitive fulfillment of the Sabbath Rest of the first creation.

And while those still on earth had to wait another day, Christ came as deliverer to the souls of the righteous who had gone before Him. Going into Abraham’s Bosom in His human soul, he delivered all those great souls who had awaited His Coming for years, decades, centuries, and even millennia. It only makes sense that they should receive the benefits of the redemption first, even while Christ’s victory remained hidden from the world. Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700

“Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700” by Noël Coypel – http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Noel-Coypel/The-Resurrection-Of-Christ,-1700.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700.jpg#/media/File:Noel-coypel-the-resurrection-of-christ-1700.jpg

Easter Sunday

Now we come to the day of the great Victory, the day on which Christ was raised from the dead in the fullness of His Divinity and humanity, having definitively conquered death. Not only was He raised from the dead, but He was raised to immortality.

That is why today we observe the Lord’s Day on Sunday (the first day of the week) rather than on Saturday (the last day of the week). With the Resurrection, Christ inaugurated the new creation. Since the Resurrection, the Kingdom of God has been gradually breaking into history, into the world of time and space.

Easter Sunday (that is, the first one) was truly the greatest day in history, and that by far. Let that fact not be lost on us. Just as we should always be careful not to lose sight of the proverbial forest for the trees, on Easter we should take great care not to lose sight of the Resurrection for the Easter eggs.

And that’s all I have to say. Happy Easter, all!

Images from Wikipedia

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Olympic ArcheryFor part 1, click here

Okay…so in part 1 we talked about the “playful” gracefulness of athletics, and how this in some ways points to the glory of God and the derivative glory of the human person.  This brings us to the next (more…)

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Yesterday, I said I would bring some reflections on motherhood and womanhood as we draw closer to Mother’s Day. Thought I’d offer a little “preview” with this video, which features an interview for the History Channel’s recent miniseries “The Bible.”

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So we come to the final chapter in our exploration of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”  In part one, we looked at evil as presented in the form of the villain Bane, who capitalizes on people’s hope.  In part two, we looked at what hope is all about and how it comes across in the movie.  Finally, in part three we looked at how humanity’s final hope must be in a life beyond this world, not in any notion of an earthly utopia.

But common sense — and, indeed, the Christian faith — will tell us that we cannot cease to care for the present world.  So how do we reconcile living and working in the world with our ultimate trust in a transcendent hope?

Let’s look to Batman for a clue.

batman vs bane

Bane’s plan is to destroy the city of Gotham with a neutron bomb.  At the end, Batman tows the bomb out to sea in an airplane-like vehicle that doesn’t have autopilot.  There, the bomb explodes.

Now to be fair, the question of whether or not Bruce Wayne/Batman died as a result of this incident is left open.  The film ends with a scene in which his loyal butler and former guardian, Alfred (Michael Caine), sees him at an outdoor café in Italy with Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), who has presumably become his wife.

Whether this is real or a form of wish-fulfillment on Alfred’s part is, in my view, debatable.

But whatever the case, it is clear that the hero of this story serves his people not by false promises or by flashy displays of power, but by self-sacrificing love.  He puts himself at greatest risk for the good of others.

Arguably, this sort of self-sacrifice is pointless if human beings are to place their hope entirely in this world.  Only if we have some kind of hope that goes beyond what this world has to offer can we make ourselves capable of this kind of service.

Anyway, that’s how we persevere in the world in hope — through love.


Of course, this doesn’t mean we are all called to martyrdom.  But our job is to effect the “Christification” of the world — that is, bringing Christ to the world and the world to Christ.  And self-forgetting love is what Christ’s very life is all about.

So we are to passionately care for the world and for the communities and cultures in which we live; but our care for these should be directed toward a higher hope, rather than our higher hope being forced to fit into the narrow confines of this world.

And that higher hope is Love Himself.

And now, if it’s all the same to you, let us hang up the bat cape.

Image of Batoni’s “Sacred Heart” from Wikipedia; other images obtained through a Google image search.

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