By Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M., The Christophers’ Board of Directors
St. Augustine once said, “A single tear shed at the remembrance of the Passion of Jesus is worth more than a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, or a year of fasting on bread and water.” A good way to connect with Christ’s Passion during this time of year is to begin by focusing on the empathy we have for the people we know best. Christ was torn away from family and friends in the prime of life to be unjustly executed. It’s the kind of tragic circumstance that would leave us reeling were it to happen to someone close to us.
Now, consider the fact that Christ laid down His life to connect with us in our suffering. It’s hard to comprehend, but Christ simultaneously loved all of mankind and each one of us individually to become the best friend we could possibly imagine. How should we feel about our best friend being crucified to save us? If we place ourselves in the shoes of those closest to Christ during His lifetime, we would wish for the mob and Pilate to free Him, so that He could return to His loved ones and go on living His life with us.
We can dream of how special life with Him must have been and share in the anguish of His disciples after they witnessed or learned about His crucifixion. And we can imagine being there to give Him water or tend his wounds in defiance of the mob, as He carried His cross to Calvary.
In that moment, when the world despised our best friend enough to put Him to a brutal death, we would be one of the few to know how good He truly was, and we would be sad to see Him so misunderstood and so mistreated. We would be sad to lose Him and would want to put ourselves in His place. But it’s something we can’t do—and something we couldn’t have done—even if we were there. What Christ accomplished is not something we could accomplish, because He was the only one pure enough to offer a sacrifice to God that would redeem mankind.
But the perfect nature of Christ’s sacrifice has made it possible for us to unite ourselves to His suffering. The surest way to have prayers answered and the miraculous enter your life is through unity with Christ on the cross. He said, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
One of the most miraculous revelations mankind has ever received occurred when Christ cried out from the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Our own Christopher prayer on forgiveness begins, “Forgiveness is the power of God infused in our lives,” and it goes on to echo the profound truths revealed to us in the moment of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice.
As we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, it is important to take the time to commemorate the Passion of Christ. Remember the amazing life He lived and all He gave up in this world. Weep for His loss, offer your own sufferings up with His perfect sacrifice, forgive those who have wronged you, and the power of God’s love will make all things possible in your life.
For free copies of the Christopher News Note “APPLYING THE BIBLE TO YOUR LIFE,” write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.