No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends. Jesus died for all of humanity, and for you and me individually. He would have died for you and for me if we were the only people in the whole universe for all time. How great is the love of Jesus for you and me!
The sin of Adam and Eve, the Original Sin, was an infinite offence against God. Therefore, some act of reparation was necessary in justice. So God in His infinite wisdom and love decided to send His only Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as the means to repair for this infinite offense against the majesty of an all holy God.
Jesus, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity became man; we call this the Incarnation of the Son of God. Therefore, being both God and man, any action whatsoever that He performed, even the most minimal, would have been sufficient to repair for all of the sins of humanity. Jesus picking up a piece of wood, taking one step, a wink of the eye, one mere breath — any of these simple actions would have been sufficient to save humanity in its totality and every person individually, a million times over.
Why? Because any action of the God-man has infinite value! The next question that follows logically is then why did He go through so much suffering in His earthly life, especially all of the cruel and atrocious tortures of His passion—from the sweating of His Precious Blood in the Garden of Olives, to the dripping out of His Precious Blood on the gibbet of the cross? Why so much?
St. Ignatius of Loyola gives us two basic reasons! First Jesus suffered such excruciating tortures, both physical and emotional, to show to all of humanity the gravity of sin. Second, and most important, to show us the depths of love.
In sum, Jesus died on the cross for you and me to repair for our sin and to show you and me the depths of His love. “No greater love than to die for one’s friends!” What love displayed by so much suffering and for you and me!
In this essay we would like to offer ten ways to understand the Passion, suffering, and death of Jesus that was done for love of you and me.
Meditate prayerfully the Passion accounts in the four Gospels; each Gospel has two chapters on the passion of Christ: Mt.26-27, Mk. 14-15, Lk. 22-23; and Jn. 18-19. Go to the ultimate source; the Word of God!
2. Contemplate the Cross
Spend some time in silent contemplation before a graphic crucifix. Contemplate with love the head crowned with thorns. Then contemplate the five sacred wounds from which blood flowed for your eternal salvation. Draw close and kiss these wounds expressing your heartfelt gratitude!
3. Way of the Cross
Make the Way of the Cross. Walk slowly and prayerfully contemplating the fourteen Stations of the Cross. Be with Our Lady and John and the Magdalene accompanying Jesus the man of sorrows in His passion that He suffered for you and me. In prayer, ask the Holy Spirit, which of the fourteen stations touches your heart deepest.
4. Film Idea: The Passion of the Christ
View the film of The Passion of the Christ. However, do not view it simply as some Hollywood rendition winning an Oscar for the season. No! Rather contemplate the film. Enter into the Ignatian mode of contemplation. Be present there and ready to accompany the Lord Jesus in body, mind and heart with Our Lady of sorrows.
5. Film Idea: Miracle of Marcelino
View this charming film! Focus on the little boy Marcelino and his intimate and growing friendship with Jesus as He hangs on the cross. Become Marcelino yourself. Contemplate Jesus as He hangs on the cross. But go deeper!
Become Jesus’ loving friend. Talk to Jesus; share your feelings with Jesus, your sorrows, your struggles, your fears, your doubts, your insecurities, anxieties, your temptations and even your sins. Tell Jesus, as He hangs on the cross, how much you love Him, how much you want to give up your sin and how you want to be with Him in heaven for all eternity.
Why not kneel before Jesus hanging on the cross and with the deepest contrition of heart express your sorrow for having been responsible for His horrendous and heart-rending passion. Then terminate this Act of Contrition by making a good—better yet the best—confession in your entire life! The Suffering savior awaits you in this Sacrament of Mercy with His arms and Heart open to love and forgive you! He invites you: “Come to me all and I will give you rest… “(Mt. 11: 28).
7. Meditation: The Last Seven Words
Meditate upon the seven last words that Jesus expressed from the cross:
- “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
- “I thirst!”
- “Woman behold thy son; son behold thy mother.”
- “My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me.”
- “Amen I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”
- “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”
- “It is finished!”
8. Holy Mass
By far the greatest act on earth is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated on the altar. In an invisible but real way in every Mass the fruits of Jesus’ Passion and death on Calvary (that first Good Friday) are renewed. Attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; participate fully actively and consciously.
Most important, receive the Eucharist (of course, if you are in the state of grace) with the greatest impulse of love from the depths of your heart. No greater way beneath the heavens on earth to enter into the life-giving passion, death and Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!
9. Contemplation of the Precious Blood
Jesus shed His Precious Blood several times for the salvation of the human race and for your soul that you might be with Him forever in heaven. Ponder slowly and prayerfully the various moments that He shed His Precious Blood, starting with the Circumcision as a little Child. Then enter into the various scenes in His life—specifically His Passion in which He poured forth His Precious Blood for love of you and me:
- Garden— Huge drops of Blood came pouring forth from His pores.
- Scouring—He was brutally scourged by the Roman flagellum, lacerating His flesh and leaving His Body an open wound! He suffers this to repair for sins against the virtue of purity.
- Crowning with thorns—His Sacred Head penetrated from scalp to His very brain with sharp, piercing thorns, razor sharp!
- Open Shoulder on Calvary—St. Bernard and others saints comment on the excruciating pain He must have experienced with the cross and its splinters piercing and penetrating His shoulder.
- Ripping of the garments—Upon reaching Calvary the soldiers brutally ripped off His garments thereby reopening the wounds inflicted on Him in the scourging at the pillar; once again to repair for sins of impurity!
- Crucifixion—nails pounded through and penetrating His Sacred Hands and Feet. His Sacred Blood comes gushing forth. As he hangs on the cross His Sacred Blood oozes forth dripping to the ground.
- Open heart—Even after He dies, he still gives of His Precious Blood. With the lance, the soldier pierces His side penetrating His Sacred Heart and Blood and water gushes forth!
10. Our Lady of Sorrows
As in the film The Passion of the Christ, why not try to live all the different moments of the Passion, suffering, and death of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through both the eyes and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our Mother!
image: The detail of fresco Jesus meet his Mother Mary as part of Cross way station in the church of St. John the Nepomuk (Vienna) by Josef Furlich / Renata Sedmakova / Shutterstock.com