His Extraordinary Life of Love

 

I just came home from singing with the choir for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Tenebrae a little while ago. It’s the beginning of the Triduum marathon for us. But, it’s a small sacrifice when put in the context of Christ’s Passion and death, which we observe again on Good Friday tomorrow. 

I’ve been contemplating the extraordinary life of Jesus this Lententide. How his presence, even in his mother’s womb (one might say, “as a mere clump of cells”), blessed John the Baptist in his mother’s womb with the graces sufficient to  “make straight the way of the Lord.” To be the last and greatest of the prophets. How he blessed Simeon and Anna at his presentation in the Temple. And the shepherds and the Magi. A mere baby, totally dependent and speechless and yet all who came in contact with him were changed forever.

This humble beginning — born in a stable and wrapped in the swaddling clothes intended for the Passover lambs — and ignominious end as a tortured and crucified criminal, lead to the advent of the Christian church which completely changed the world. It’s almost too improbable — that the life and death of a  first century Jewish peasant would upend the pagan world in a few short years. The realization of this improbability chipped away at my atheistic skepticism some years ago. I could no longer convince myself that this was merely a man.

As I pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, it has occurred to me just how extraordinary Christ’s behavior is under the circumstances. He is suffering this grave injustice as an innocent man, and yet he expresses no anger and no self-pity. In fact, just the opposite. When he encounters the women weeping for him on his way of the cross, he expresses pity for them. I can’t help but wonder how he blessed Saint Veronica as she carried off his image on the cloth she used to wipe his blood-stained face. Or Simon of Cyrene, who helped to carry Jesus’ cross and bore the blood of the Lord on his own shoulders. . .

I’ve always been struck by the image of Satan that Dante portrays in The Inferno. This fallen angel — magnificent as a creature of God — is in the pit of hell with his lower half encased in the ice of his tears of self-pity. If ever there was someone entitled to self-pity, it’s Jesus. And, yet, he not only doesn’t indulge himself, he continues to bless those around him, even from the cross. “You will be with me in paradise.” “Behold your mother.” “Father forgive them.” These are not normal human responses to the circumstance he finds himself in. Even his cry of “My God, my God, why have you abandon me?” (from Psalm 22) is a blessing to those of us who undergo serious suffering. It gives us permission to cry out in imitation of our Lord and to trust in the redemptive and purifying power of our own suffering united to Christ’s. 

These are dark days in our world and our nation. But, there is this glimmer just on the horizon. The One whose radical love is eternal and ever present will rise again. We just have to have a little faith, and to love one another as He loves us, by His grace. 

Blessed Triduum, Ricochet. Peace of Christ be with you.

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  1. hoowitts Coolidge
    hoowitts
    @hoowitts

    Western Chauvinist:

    and yet all who came in contact with him were changed forever.

    … lead to the advent of the Christian church which completely changed the world. It’s almost too improbable — that the life and death of a  first century Jewish peasant would upend the pagan world in a few short years. The realization of this improbability chipped away at my atheistic skepticism some years ago. I could no longer convince myself that this was merely a man.

    Thanks for sharing WC – I’ve chewed some of the same dirt on that dusty road to emptiness. I put myself in the C.S. Lewis camp of the reluctant convert some decades ago.

    Progressing through Holy Week concisely illustrates the remarkable and inconceivable nature of Christ. He is unique in human history, essentially splitting Earthly time in two. I can’t imagine what course humanity would have taken had we not been graced by His sacrificial life. Actually, I can imagine and I don’t like spending time there.

    • #1
  2. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Thanks.  And thanks again.

    • #2
  3. Trink Coolidge
    Trink
    @Trink

    Beautiful Sister.  Your words glow with our sunrise this morning.  Thank you.

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Western Chauvinist: I’ve been contemplating the extraordinary life of Jesus

    Extraordinary life, extraordinary death and resurrection . . .

    • #4
  5. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Happy Good Friday and Happy Easter!

    • #5
  6. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    I can’t recall who said it, someone famous, but this has stuck with me over the years:

    “Jesus Christ was either who He claimed to be, that is the Son of God doing His Father’s work as He said, or else he was a lunatic.”

    Some lunatic.

    Happy Easter!

     

    • #6
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Fritz (View Comment):

    I can’t recall who said it, someone famous, but this has stuck with me over the years:

    “Jesus Christ was either who He claimed to be, that is the Son of God doing His Father’s work as He said, or else he was a lunatic.”

    Some lunatic.

    Happy Easter!

     

    I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

    — C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    • #7
  8. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Fritz (View Comment):

    I can’t recall who said it, someone famous, but this has stuck with me over the years:

    “Jesus Christ was either who He claimed to be, that is the Son of God doing His Father’s work as He said, or else he was a lunatic.”

    Some lunatic.

    Happy Easter!

    It was C.S. Lewis. It’s known as the liar, lunatic, or Lord argument.

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.”

    That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to”.

    – Mere Christianity

    • #8
  9. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Percival (View Comment):

    Fritz (View Comment):

    I can’t recall who said it, someone famous, but this has stuck with me over the years:

    “Jesus Christ was either who He claimed to be, that is the Son of God doing His Father’s work as He said, or else he was a lunatic.”

    Some lunatic.

    Happy Easter!

     

    I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse…. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

    — C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    Thank you!!

    • #9
  10. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    I enjoyed Yer post, WC.

    • #10
  11. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Jimmy Carter (View Comment):

    I enjoyed Yer post, WC.

    Thanks, Jimmuh. Are you coming to Colorado this year? Maybe have a little meetup? 

    • #11
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