A Reflection on Good Friday

Jesus invites us to be his soldiers and ambassadors

At the beginning of Lent, the devil tempted Jesus in the desert. He tempted him to turn stones into bread. He tempted him to do a spectacular miracle by jumping down from the top of the Temple. He tempted him to rule the world through power and intimidation instead of through self-sacrificing love.

All of these temptations had something in common: the devil was trying to get Jesus to reject his Father's plan for his life. All these temptations wanted Jesus to say, "my will be done" instead of "thy will be done."

But Jesus didn't reject his Father's plan, he completed his mission exactly how the Father wanted him to, through obedience, true humility, and self-sacrificing love.

Now Lent is over, and we have reached the climax of human history – the moment when Jesus reverses original sin and ends the devil's rule over the human race. 

And now the devil has come back to tempt Jesus again. But this time he used a different tactic. Instead of trying to seduce him with subtle lies, as in the desert, he assaulted him with psychological and physical pain – excruciating pain.

He tried to make Jesus' mission so hard, so painful that he would simply give up. He assaulted him in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus experienced emotional and spiritual agony. And then he assaulted him through the humiliation of the false trials, the heart wrenching betrayals and abandonment by his followers, the gruesome violence of the scourging, and the tremendous agony of death by crucifixion.

At any point along the way, Jesus could have ended his tortures simply by saying in his heart, "not thy will be done, Father, but my will be done."

Why didn't he? Why did he go through all of this horrendous suffering?

Jesus is our King, who fought with spiritual weapons to free us from spiritual slavery to selfishness and sin.

Jesus is our King, and a king fights to save his people.

Jesus fought for us. Not with guns and bullets, and not with swords and canons, because his "kingdom is not of this world."

He fought with spiritual weapons:

  • The sword of obedience: "Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered";
  • The shield of truth: "for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth";
  • The lance of love, faithful love, faithful to the very end: "It is finished."

But the most important of them was love.

On the cross Jesus shows us what love in a fallen world really looks like:

  • Love is not self-indulgence, as popular culture would have us believe.
  • Love is not a good feeling, as much popular music would like us to believe.
  • Love is self-giving. It is forgetting oneself and one's feelings, even sacrificing oneself for the good of the beloved. Just as Christ did on the cross.

And he invites us today to take up those same weapons ourselves, to fight alongside him, to be his soldiers and ambassadors.

  • When we are obedient to God's will, especially when it's hard, when it means that other people will reject us or make fun of us, as they did to him, then we are winning victories for his Kingdom.
  • When we study and adhere to the truth of the Gospel and Church teaching, even when the cultural fashions around us contradict them, we are conquering new spiritual territory for Christ.
  • When we stay faithful to God by staying faithful to our responsibilities and relationships, to our life's mission, even when it demands self-sacrifice, we are following in our King's footsteps, giving glory to God, and storing up treasures in heaven.

Jesus knows that we have already tried and failed many times, giving into temptations of self-indulgence, laziness, and arrogance.

But he hasn't given up on us. He is still thirsting for our love, our friendship, and our efforts to help build up his Church.

This is what he meant when he said, "I thirst," as he hung dying on the cross. Let's thank him once again for his unconditional love, proven once and for all on the cross.

And let's ask him to fill our hearts with his grace, to teach us to use the weapons that he used: obedience, truth, and self-forgetful love.

And let's promise that we will go forth today, renewed in our determination to be faithful soldiers of this eternal Kingdom, faithful Christians, for as long as he grants us to live.

Tags: Good Fridayi, Jesus was tempted, Jesus invites us

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