Living sacrifice (Rom 12, 1)
Facing and accepting death, Jesus’ takes our place and carries what we human beings, bogged down in our human way of thinking, refuse to carry.
Suffering and death are unavoidable. But we do not like them. Nor does Jesus, though they are avoidable to him, since no one takes his life from him, but rather he lays it down freely.
Jesus shows his displeasure with suffering and death as he relieves the afflictions of the people and raises the dead. Later on, in the face of his imminent death, he will sweat blood. He will pray that the cup be taken away from him, without failing to add, however, “Not my will but yours be done.”
Clearly, Jesus, resisting the headwind that knocks us down human beings, left to our human way of thinking, to our stubbornness of heart and to our own designs, accepts his passion and death in order to be faithful to his mission. He will rather die than betray his mission. He is not about to turn his back on the cloud of witnesses who, for telling and living the truth, suffered martyrdom and thus proved themselves his prophets, from the righteous Abel to John the Baptist. And so, Jesus despises shame and endures the cross.
Needless to say, he does not do so to appease a vindictive God who thirsts for the blood of his opponents or that of their vicar. It is not the Father who makes inevitable his Son’s going to Jerusalem to suffer much and die there; it is rather human beings, because among ourselves, as St. Vincent de Paul observes, “It is very difficult to do any good without conflict (Coste I:81).
We humans, yes, send Jesus to his cruel death, due to our opposition to the truth, justice, and the love that is supportive and compassionate, because we insist on looking out only for our own interests. Jesus is a victim of human selfishness and greed. Yet precisely because he allows himself to be our victim, Jesus saves us, exemplifying that by losing one’s life, one finds and saves it.
And of course, more than anybody else, we who claim to be his disciples are urged to carry our crosses and follow our Teacher. He wants us to be living sacrifices like him and with him, giving our body up and shedding our blood. He seduces us to be the world’s laughingstock, poor, weak, foolish, to put ourselves on collision course with those who do not think as God does.