Countless religious studies indicate, time and time again, that men come to discover that something has gone wrong in their hearts. Something beyond his memory – something far in the past – went dreadfully wrong. Pain, suffering, injustice, egoism, oppression… these have become “normal” for us all; still something inside us says that this “normality” is anything but normal.
Indeed, something wilted in the garden of man’s heart. We all perceive it there in the depths.
We naturally ask, what to do? Every day we get up and furiously go to work in attempt to fill the void, to heal the wound. One more experience of pleasure, one more promotion, one more round of applause, one more Facebook “like”, one more deposit in the bank… But, where does it all lead?
In the end, we all must die. The question is how. Since the earliest of days, with the practice of ritual “sacrifice”, people seemed to grasp an inkling of a very profound, yet initially perturbing proposal: perhaps we must die (albeit a death symbolized by the death of another [an animal, for example]) in order to live again.
All sorts of distortions and inhumanities have been committed in the name of “sacrifice”, yet I believe there is something true there, a natural human impulse at at the core of it. What’s more, we see it in the baptismal dynamic: following the steps of Christ we are called to die ourselves, to our old self, to that wilted existence of sin.
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We may be tempted to dilute this idea, to reduce it some sort of provoking poetry. Nevertheless, there is no Christianity without the Cross, no Resurrection without the Passion. The Passion story is the real history of God who died in our stead, inviting us to walk in the person of Simon, by his side, so that we too may rise again with him.
Although unbelievable, it is the only thing that makes sense in the end. Ignoring this path leads us to death, but to a death without Christ. This week, however, Christ reminds us that he has done and continues to do everything possible and impossible to offer us that eternal life that we all seek. He, like the loving father (Lk 15), stands waiting to embrace us, to clothe us in beautiful robes and to bestow upon us his loving mercy. We simply must trust, be courageous, and walk together with him side by side along that rocky road to Calvary. For it is there, on that hill, that we too will hear the words “Today, you will be with my in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).