It hit me yesterday a few times.
Especially during our Holy Thursday Mass.
Jesus is real. And He’s not a pie in the sky, abstract being with no concern for us.
See, this is the danger of falling into checklist love. I prayed multiple times today, check! I said, “I love you,” check! I did something nice for someone else, check! Etc.
That ain’t love.
But, often times, that is how I love.
I do it out of habit.
What’s more is the fact that I think I do it to not go to hell as opposed to doing it to get into Heaven. It’s a dangerous lifestyle and I need to change it. I don’t want to be a checklist lover of Christ. Because that’s not what He is for me.
What’s the most striking thing is the fact that, at this very moment, some two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was hanging on the Cross, dying, hurting, suffocating, in mental agony. He saw us all when he was in the garden, praying. And He loved us.
In those raw moments of agony, He still loved.
Mark 15:25 says, “It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.”
And He died at three in the afternoon. That means He hung for six hours.
Do you know the history of the cross?
It was a means of torture and humiliation invented by the Persians and perfected by the Romans. It was used for the worst criminals. They died by suffocation. See, they would need to pull themselves up in order to breathe. And if they didn’t die fast enough, their legs wold be broken, taking away their means of pushing up to breathe.
Jesus was already dead before his legs could be broken.
It must have been around midnight when the soldiers came into the garden and arrested Jesus. (Jesus – the God of the Universe, of Heaven and earth, the Creator.) From then until nine the next morning (this morning), they spat on Him, taunted Him, beat Him, scourged Him, pounded a crown of thorns onto His head.
This is real.
And it happened today.
How great His Love must be to still care and want us with Him after we’ve hurt Him over and over again.
I’ve been hurt and the last thing I’d want is to be around the person that did the hurting. The last thing I want to do is forgive them and love them.
But this is what God does. After everything we did to Him, He still loves with a perfect love.
And that’s what we’re called to do.
Keep in mind that, just because Jesus is God, He was still human. 100% God, 100% man. He still felt pain, temptation — the difference is that He didn’t give in to it.
I know many of us would like to say that, were we there when He died, we would have stood up for Him. But I think that I, at least, would have doubted His divinity. I would have doubted.
But in three days, He defeats death.
He gives us another chance every second of the day.
If you ever find yourself checking off a prayer list without really thinking about how much love you’re putting into it, stop. Say a prayer to soften your heart. Ask Him to give you the grace you need to be a saint.
At least for today.