As we come to Holy Thursday of Holy Week and come very close to Easter, I thought I would share with you this reflection on The Passion from The Word Among Us, which is a Catholic devotional magazine and website. I think it is great for us to sit down and really focus on this Holy Triduum and realize how much Jesus sacrificed for us by dying on the cross.
God Loves You!
That’s the message of the Passion.
Why did Jesus die for our sins? The answer was like a flash of sunlight illuminating the faith of the Church: because he loved us!
“Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2); “the Son of God … loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20); “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
It is an indisputable primordial truth pervading everything, and it applies both to the Church as a whole and to every individual. St. John the Evangelist, the last to write his gospel, dates this revelation back to Christ when he was on earth: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends” (John 15:13-14).
This answer to the “why” of Christ’s passion is really final and allows no further questions. He loved us because he loved us—that’s all there is to it! In fact, there is no “why” to God’s love; it is a free gift. It is the only love in the world that is truly and totally free, that asks nothing for itself (he already has everything!) but only gives. Or rather, he gives himself. “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us… . We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:10, 19).
Jesus, then, suffered and died freely, out of love. Not by chance, not from necessity, not because of any obscure forces or historical reasons overwhelming him without his knowledge or against his will. If anyone asserts this, they are nullifying the gospel, removing its soul, because the gospel is nothing other than the good news of God’s love in Christ Jesus.
Not only the gospel, but the entire Bible is nothing other than the news of God’s mysterious, incomprehensible love for people. If the whole of Scripture were to start talking at once, if by some miracle the written words were transformed into speech, that voice would be more powerful than the waves of the sea, and it would cry out: “God loves you!”
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa writes, teaches, and preaches on the gospel. This selection is from The Fire of Christ’s Love, a collection of meditations from his annual Good Friday homilies to the pope and his household. To buy the book or read another excerpt, please visit The Word Among Us Bookstore.
Have a wonderful Holy Week and a Blessed Easter!