Are You Trying To Get Yourself Killed?!

 

Are You Trying To Get Yourself Killed?!

This is the question that comes to mind when I read what Jesus said and did just days before the Crucifixion. It appears that if Jesus wasn’t actually looking to get killed, He surely wasn’t doing everything in His power to avoid it. Did you notice?

In Thursday’s Gospel reading, the Jews of Jesus’ time question and challenge Him regarding His origin and authority. Jesus responds with answers that would get any Jew of His day killed for blasphemy: “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” (cf. John 8: 51-59)

In Friday’s Gospel, we see that the plot thickens, as the Jews pick up rocks to stone Him. Yet Jesus doesn’t back down or change His story in an attempt to appease His opponents – quite the opposite. He states: “I am the Son of God… realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10: 31-42) So, again, they tried to arrest them – but He escaped from their power, Scripture tells us. Yes, Jesus is in control.

Was Jesus making claims to divinity that no man can or should make?
Was Jesus losing His mind or, worse still, was He a blasphemer?
What to do with Him?

Saturday’s Gospel tells us that this is exactly what the leaders of the day asked themselves: “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave Him alone, all will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.” Jesus had become in their eyes a trouble-maker, a nuisance, a problem – something they needed to “take care of” quickly and definitively. As God would have it, Caiaphas, the High Priest that year, prophesies without realizing it, stating that it was better that one man die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish, for as St. John adds: “he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So, from that day on they planned to kill Him.” (John 11:45-56)

Yes. They would kill Him… for you, for me, for the entire world.

Jesus wasn’t as much looking to get killed, as He was willing to die: to lay down His life for His friends, to gather the children of God dispersed throughout the world ever since the Fall.

Love led Him. Jesus would not back down. Jesus would not shrink. Jesus would finish the mission the Father entrusted to Him, which He willingly accepted for love of you and me.

And to save us He needed to reveal Himself to us. He wasn’t “claiming” to be God, as much as He was declaring or revealing that He is indeed God!

Jesus came to declare the truth about God.

That’s why He stated that the Father and He are one; that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; that He is the resurrection and the life; that whoever believes in Him will not perish; that He is the light of the world; that He is the Good Shepherd and the sheep gate; that no one comes to the Father except through Him; and so many other statements about Himself that no man, in his right mind, has ever made before or since Christ’s coming.

Jesus’ declarations were unambiguous.
Jesus’ love is undeniable.
Jesus’ salvation is definitive.
Jesus’ offer of love and life are for everyone.

As we enter now into the holiest week of the year –Holy Week– and celebrate the greatest mysteries and events of salvation history, I suggest we ponder the daily Mass readings carefully. Pay close attention to the events that led up to the historic events we will commemorate on Passion or Palm Sunday and throughout the entire week. Fully enter into the Passion, the Death, and the Resurrection of Our Lord, allowing Christ to truly make a difference in your life this Holy Week and upcoming Easter Season.

Let Jesus’ steadfast love and endurance – to the point of obediently accepting even death, death on a cross (Phil. 2:8) – speak to you. Let His example encourage you to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4: 7) despite the antagonism of our opponents – which is, at times, similar to the antagonism and resistance to God endured by Jesus Himself, which should come as no surprise, for St. Peter tells us that Christ suffered for us in this way and left us an example, to have us follow in His footsteps. (1 Pet. 2: 21) And we know what awaits those who persevere! Life! Resurrection! So, go ahead and merit the crown that awaits those who persevere till the end and fulfill the mission God has entrusted to them. (2 Tim. 4:8 )

One last thought:

Suffering and death cannot be endured with courage, trust, and surrender unless we love the Lord more than life itself.

May the fear of the Lord, understood as deep reverence, respect, submission, and filial love and trust, be the hallmark of our lives.

May we revere God in our every word, thought, and action.

May we trust the Triune God with all our heart, mind, and soul, and with the words of the Psalmist, cry to the Lord:

“Your love is better than life.”
(Psalm 63)

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