Loving Life by Living Love: Responding to "The Passion of the Christ"
By: Deacon Keith A Fournier
© Third millennium, LLC
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?"
St. John Chapter 9
Theatres are packed with people viewing "the Passion of the Christ". How wonderful it is that the God of infinite mercy has provided one more opportunity for the timeless message, the invitation to love life by learning to truly love, to be received by a world that continually loses the way.
During this season of Lent, we are invited to examine our consciences, to reflect on how we are living ...and how we are loving. The singular life of Love Incarnate, who walked the way of pain, points out the way to all those who have "eyes to see" and "ears to hear.". He is Himself the way.
This invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ, recorded by the "Beloved Disciple" John in His gospel is more than a paradox; it reveals a new way of living, a life of surrendered love. To an age deluded by self-indulgence, walking the way of self-idolatry, this way certainly seems "counter-cultural." Yet, to those who accept the invitation, it is the path to ultimate freedom, the call to become a person for others.
In a later epistle to the early church John writes:
"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us."
Those who bear the name Christian are called to carry forward in time the redemptive mission, the way of love, by picking up our cross and becoming persons for others. The One through whom the universe was created out of love, and who "in the fullness of time" came among us to pay the penalty for the sin, the wrong choices, of the entire race that He fashioned for communion, now beckons us to , "Come...follow me."
The Apostle Paul writes "...whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him".
Why would this Sinless One suffer every lash, bare every indignity and torture, for those who had turned away from His invitation to love? Pure Love always gives itself away to the other.
During this Season of Lent we are invited to empty ourselves so that we might be filled with the very presence of the One whom this profound film reveals. We who bear the name Christian have a sobering obligation. Our task is to keep the message of the movie alive so that the world may see the Love manifested through this encounter on the screen in our daily lives. Imagine what would happen if a train of love flowed out of all these movie theatres into the world of our day? Well, it can happen. In fact, that's the plan. Now comes the question. Will we respond?
Death could not contain that Love through whom the Universe was fashioned and who came as one of us to suffer on behalf of those who had rejected Him. Love conquers all. That tomb burst open after three days and He walked into the world, which is now invited to be reborn. He recreates that world through Love and invites each of us to be His hands and His feet in the process. We who bear His name are called to lead a procession out of those theaters and into His way of love.
The "Passion of the Christ" was for a purpose. We are now invited to speak the movie into life, not only with words, but also through living the language of love by becoming persons given away for others. Love is cruciform; it always takes the shape of the Cross. He carried His and now gives us our own. It is there that we truly make the choices that matter most.
Will we choose to love life by living Love? The world is waiting for our answer.
Keith Fournier is a married Roman Catholic Deacon, who also serves the Melkite Greek Catholic Church with approval. He is a human rights lawyer and a graduate of the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, Franciscan University of Steubenville and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. He is a co-founder of the Your Catholic Voice Movement and the founder of Common Good.
https://www.catholic.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Deacon, 757 546-9580
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