As we approach Holy Week and the Easter Triduum, I thought it was time to make good on my intentions to share some reflections with the Challenge community. I’ve been talking about doing a Lent/Easter blog post for almost 2 years. No more excuses!
In John 15:13, Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.” This is the ultimate sacrifice. As we prepare to celebrate the Easter Triduum, we reflect on the Paschal sacrifice—Jesus’ death on the cross for the salvation of the world.
Sacrifice is a word we hear often at this time of year. I think Easter and Remembrance Day are the two annual events most connected to that word. When we think of soldiers dying to ensure peace in their country, in another country, in the world, we understand that the sacrifice of their lives is an incredible gift. These soldiers, understanding the risks present on the battlefield, believed in a cause beyond themselves and they fought for it. This is why we take time to honour our army, navy and air force, on Remembrance Day, but also on a regular basis. Their sacrifice is that notable.
The season of Lent provides us opportunities to demonstrate our understanding of sacrifice and to align it with Jesus’ passion. Fasting from foods and activities we enjoy, or spending more time on prayer and helping others are good things that help us focus more on others and less on ourselves. We may begin doing this out of routine or expectation but the goal is to eventually get to a place where our little sacrifices are made out of love.
For Jesus, his ultimate sacrifice is one made out of love for the Father and for all of mankind. For us, in our little lives, we may not ever need to die for someone else, or for our country, but we do die a little when we make sacrifices. I’ve heard this spoken about by great writers such as Henri Nouwen and Fr. Ron Rolheiser and it is fascinating to me.
The moments in which we choose others’ needs over our own reflect a small death of our ego and our selfishness. Through repetition of selfless acts, we begin to create an attitude of selflessness. We begin to embrace sacrifice and, by doing so, we grow stronger in our love of God and our love of humanity. I know, I know, it sounds extravagant and intense, but we don’t need to do grand things for this to happen. Making little choices and little actions, each day, that turn ourselves outward to how we can best serve the people in our lives, is how we can better unite ourselves to Jesus’ ministry and mission.
So, how do I live this out in practical terms? I will share more about
how I personally live out sacrifice in my 3rd day in the next part of this series. In part 2, I will share about my victories and struggles with sacrifice as a father, as a husband, and as a man.