Choosing Love ~ Bishop Gregory Godsey
It is easy for us as clergy and religious to become entangled in putting on a show for those who follow us. It is easy to take advantage of those who look up to us as spiritual guides. And if it is easy for us to fall prey to those feelings and behaviors, imagine the struggle our Lord had.
Here was Jesus, a man like us in all things but sin, who also had the fullness of the Godhead within him. While he was 100% man, he was also 100% God! He could speak a word and the whole of creation would cease to exist. He could stretch out his hand and thousands of Angels would have sprung to his aid. Yet, as today’s readings tell us, he did not call on that power to save himself.
Saint Paul reminds us that Jesus did not view equality with God as something to be grasped. He instead emptied himself, become humble to the will of the Father and became man to save us from our sins. Jesus knew that his path would ultimately lead to the cross. However, he did not allow fear or ego to keep him from that painful moment. He suffered the most painful, most horrifying death imaginable in order that we would not have to spend an eternity in punishment for our sins.
Humility was but one trait that led Christ to follow the path laid out for him. Love also led him to the cross and kept him there despite the pain and despite the suffering. His love for mankind, his love for those who would ultimately reject his saving grace, kept him on the cross. And that love is seen in the tender moment when Jesus says to the Good Thief that he will see him again in Paradise. You see, the thief was there because of his transgressions and he was aware that he was paying for his sins. But he also saw that Jesus was not guilty of any sin. He saw that love for humanity had led him to this moment and the thief wanted that kind of love. And in that moment, he found it. Jesus, suffering and in agony, showed the thief compassion, maybe for the first time in the thief’s life! And the thief was given the grace of a holy death, freed from his sins and looking on the Savior of the world.
Oh that we would find such grace and love in our final suffering! Oh that we could approach each moment of our lives with humility and love!
As the Lenten season draws to a close, we will celebrate Jesus’ last supper, his crucifixion and his resurrection. But before we do, let us ask God the Father to grant us the grace of a humble and holy death. Let us pray that His Son, Jesus Christ, will direct our hearts and actions to show the love he had on the cross to everyone we meet. And let us ask God the Holy Spirit to form us in the humility that Christ practiced when he came to this earth to save us.
By doing so, we will find ourselves transformed into mirrors of Christ and Him crucified for the entire world to see.