A Thousand Deaths

A Thousand Deaths

When Jesus was confronted with untrue accusations, do you remember what He did? As the Sanhedrin gathered false testimony, as Pilate presented questions given by the chief priests, as Jesus struggled beneath the weight of the cross and the jeers of the people, as Jesus was maligned while on the cross, do you remember what He chose?


How hard it is to not rush to our own defense! When situations are misrepresented, when intentions are skewed, when honest questions are left unanswered, it is a tremendous act of the will to not attempt to set all things right. Sometimes, it is necessary to provide clarity and correctness and other times it is completely unnecessary. And sometimes it is necessary to try to show the misunderstandings, but to ultimately fail in convincing them of their skewed view.

We always feel the pains of injustice acutely when it offends our own sense of justice. I look at the lives of the saints and martyrs and I tend to think about how glorious and courageous were their deaths. Yet each of those martyrdoms was preceded by many, many small bloodless deaths. St. Paul didn’t only suffer beheading in Rome. Before that, he was imprisoned, he experienced riot after riot when preaching the Gospel, he was looked upon with distrust by the Jews and the Christians after his striking conversion, and he spent much time in chains for the sake of the Gospel. His final suffering, the death of a martyr, was simply the last death he experienced in a long line of dying to self.

Most of our stories won’t be quite that dramatic. We probably won’t sit unjustly condemned in terrible prisons awaiting our cruel deaths. We will, however, suffer in other ways. And it will be in ways that will be easy to want to reject or feel the need to correct. As Jesus heard false testimony, I am certain He had at least part of a desire to simply say, “I didn’t say that. That isn’t right. You weren’t there. You are intentionally misrepresenting me.” Instead, He suffered in silence with the Lord. He knew that the truth would be revealed and He rested with the Lord in the midst of being misunderstood. He invites us to do the same, in the small and the large sufferings of our daily life.

Continue reading “A Thousand Deaths”

“Beauty and the Beast” Gave Me the Perfect Phrase for Holy Week

“Beauty and the Beast” Gave Me the Perfect Phrase for Holy Week

I watched Beauty and the Beast this weekend and I’ve been turning one lyric over and over in my mind ever since.  “How in the midst of all this sorrow can so much hope and love endure?” (from ‘Days in the Sun’)  For several reasons, it seemed to be the perfect phrase to carry into this Holy Week.

In the midst of experiencing again the Passion of Jesus Christ, how can we still find hope and love?  When I read the news, how can I find hope and love in the events of strife and discord?  In tragedy on a personal or community level, how can I wade through the hurt and find hope?

The short answer is that it is difficult to do, but it must be possible.  It isn’t a matter of denying the pain or sorrow.  The Lord knew we would experience pain.  He understands the depths of feeling forsaken and abandoned.  His closest friends fell asleep during His moments of great agony.  When soldiers came to arrest Him, the apostles all fled.  Jesus isn’t asking us to deny pain or to act like it doesn’t impact us.  Rather, He is asking us to choose to find the Resurrection in the midst of every crucifixion.  Or, at the very least, to acknowledge that there will be a Resurrection, even if death seems to be victorious right now. Continue reading ““Beauty and the Beast” Gave Me the Perfect Phrase for Holy Week”

A Heart Like His

When I was in high school, a Totus Tuus team would come to my parish each summer.  One year, on the night we were having Adoration, I thought about how the team would do the same program each week.  Each week they would have Adoration and I found myself thinking that it must not be that novel of an experience anymore.  If they did it week after week, they must get used to it and not be as excited as I was, since I rarely had the opportunity to go to Adoration.

Fast forward a few years and I was a member on a Totus Tuus team.  I realized how wrong my earlier assumption had been.  It was because I was closer to Christ that the night for Adoration seemed so much dearer to me than it had before.  No, it wasn’t a particularly new experience, but I yearned for that hour each week when I could just sit before Our Lord.

This memory came to mind because today in my sophomore class I showed a couple clips from “The Passion of the Christ.”  As Jesus carries the cross, there is a part where Mary is racing to reach Him as she recalls a similar incident that took place when He was a child.  My heart was aching with this dear mother and I found myself near tears.  Part of me thinks I shouldn’t have this response anymore since I’ve seen the movie several times.  Yet I think it is almost a requirement that as we draw nearer to the Lord, we develop more of His Heart.  He has a tender heart.  Sin makes us harden our hearts, but Jesus gives us new hearts, hearts of flesh.

 “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  (Ezekiel 36:26)

Hearts of flesh feel experiences more intensely.  I find myself wanting the heart Jesus has and yet being fearful of what that will entail.  My heart is already very sensitive at times, how would it respond to being more aware of the impact of sin in the world?  Could I handle a heart like His that would be vulnerable and open to all?  Wouldn’t I get wounded?

We fear being wounded.  Rightfully so, because it hurts.  Yet if we want to follow Jesus, we must carry our cross and live as He did.

And Jesus was wounded.  

His heart could truly love because it was truly open.  In my mind, I seem to imagine that Jesus had this loving heart that was also fiercely guarded, like the armor of a knight.  That is incorrect.  Jesus is the Divine Healer who allows Himself to be wounded for our sake.

The closer we come to the heart of Jesus, the more we will experience in union with Him.  Hearts of steel and stone cannot deeply love.  Jesus desires us to have hearts of flesh.  Hearts that can be wounded, but more importantly, hearts that can love and be loved.

Heart of Jesus, sanctify my heart.

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