Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. Today is a day to reflect on Christ's passion and death and what those things mean for men and women everywhere. When I was younger, it never made sense to me why Christ had to die for God to be able to forgive us.  Couldn't He just let bygones be bygones and be done with it? Why send a son you claim to love just so that people could kill him in a most horrible way possible? Back then, I didn't like to look at the crucifix.  It seemed a morbid reminder of humanity at its worst.

Now, though, I understand. It's all about love.  There are two questions on Heaven's entrance exam: 1) Did we love God with our whole heart, mind, and strength? and 2) Did we love our neighbor as ourselves?

God saw that no matter how plainly He might spell out to us what it is He wanted us to do, no matter how detailed the instructions He might give us, we would never be able to love one another the way that He wanted us to without someone to set the example.  That's why He came in person, taking the form of a human being, to show us just how far we were to go in loving one another.  We were to love one another so much that we would willingly die for even those who hate us, those who betray us, those whom we have never even met. We were to forgive every hurt ever done to us, showing one another the same compassion that Christ showed us all on the cross when He asked God to forgive us for we knew not what we were doing.  That is how much we were to love each and every one of our fellow human beings.

God also knew that even Christ's example wouldn't be enough to sustain us. For that reason, He gave us so many powerful tools to help us along our journey. He gave us the Holy Spirit in Baptism, thereby providing us a kind of armor to help defend us against temptation. He gave us the Holy Eucharist to feed and nourish our souls with a food that would never die.  He gave us Confirmation, our call to join the battle against evil, and through it gave us the weapons needed.  He gave us Holy Matrimony that in the unconditional love between spouses and between parent and child we might have a foretaste of the love waiting for us in Heaven.  He gave us Holy Orders that we might have officers to lead us in battle.  He gave us the sacrament of Reconciliation that we might have a way to heal the wounds we receive in that battle.  He gave us the Anointing of the Sick so that we might be given what we need to continue our battle if it is God's will that we should live, or be given peace as we fight our final battle here on Earth. He also gave to us Holy Mother Church, that in her we might find all of these waiting for us along with a communion of saints and a host of heavenly angels to join with us in our fight.

All of this was possible only because Christ was willing to lay down His life for the sake of every man, woman, and child ever born. It is also why it is only by following Christ that we have any hope of reaching Heaven, for only by following His example do we know how far we must go to get there and by obeying His commands that we have the tools necessary to reach Heaven.  Buddha did not lay down his life for his followers, nor did Mohammed, nor Horus, nor any of the other religious figures.  Christ alone died that man might live, and lived that He might show man the way to Heaven.  This is why we call this Good Friday, because on this day a little over 2000 years ago, Christ used the wood of His cross to build us a bridge that would carry us safely to Heaven.

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