Obeying God and keeping his word, Jesus dies on the cross. Christians ought to die in the same way.
We hear, not rarely, “Such life, so too the end.” That is to say, we die as we live. So, St. Vincent rightly teaches that to die like Jesus Christ, one has to live like Jesus Christ (SV.EN I:276).
First, Jesus lives surrendering himself wholly to the will of God, to the utmost, to the end. He would rather die than betray the will of God.
This life of absolute self-surrender is his characteristic trait. That is why, coming into the world, he offers himself to God, who does not require sin-offerings. He cries instead, “In the scroll of the book it stands written that I should do your will.”
Yes, the will of the one who has sent him is what matters most to Jesus. His food is to do the will of God and finish his work.
And in fulfilling such work, Jesus does not draw back, despite the threat of horrible suffering, torture and death. Since he is neither suicidal nor delights in seeing people abuse him, he prays the cup pass from him. Yet in the end, he affirms his willingness to do the will of the Father.
That is to say, he would rather die than turn his back on his mission. And his mission is to announce the Gospel to the poor, to us, for we are all poor before God.
So, Jesus, secondly, is a “man-for others,” par excellence, ready to die for others.
Loving God and neighbor, Jesus embodies his own teaching about the utmost importance of the twofold commandment of love. He goes about doing good; he teaches in synagogues, announces the Gospel of the kingdom, heals the sick.
Moreover, Jesus firmly determines to go up to Jerusalem, although he senses that to die will be his fate there. That is because powerful people are against him, because he fosters faithfully what is good, right and true.
These people find particularly bothersome his strong denouncement of greed, injustice and the lack of mercy. They take offense. Does not this mean they are guilty?
Yet in any case, the Servant of God does not rest until he establishes justice on earth. He sets his face like flint, knowing he shall not suffer disgrace. He knows besides that God can raise him from among the humbly obedient to death even on the cross. That is why he does not hesitate to go to die.
Now, are we, like the apostle Thomas, ready to go to die with Jesus?
To go to die with Jesus means, of course, to go to live as does Jesus.
Lord Jesus, you go up to Jerusalem to suffer and die, and so enter into your glory. Bring us along to live and die with you.
9 April 2017
Palm Sunday (A)
Mt 21, 1-11; Is 50, 4-7; Phil 2, 6-11; Mt 26, 14 – 27, 66