November 8th, 2011 22:00 EST
It is by those who have suffered that the world has been advanced. Leo Tolstoy.
Maxmillian Kolbe, a Catholic priest, gave up his life for a fellow prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. He was not compelled, but willingly made the sacrifice. He did not seek a way out of hardship and torture, but out of love for his friend, he laid down his life. A praise worthy action indeed!
John Q, a movie that tugs at our heart strings, depicts a father in a critical situation. To save his son who had a defective heart and who will survive only with a heart transplant, the father decides to give his son his heart - not after his death, but when he is alive. The doctors are held at gun point until they agree to perform the surgery on the willing father. Providentially, a donor heart arrives just it time, to reunite father and son. We are left with moist eyes watching the father struggle through his sacrificial decision and applaud him. It is only a movie, but it shows what fathers are capable of doing for their children.
We lavishly praise mothers who time and again make heroic sacrifices for their children. We admire fathers who work their hands to the bone to provide for children. We applaud the great deeds of one friend for another. We commend teachers who go beyond the call of duty. We salute soldiers who valiantly fight till they go down. We give such worthy souls great appreciation but will not praise Jesus for the supreme sacrifice He made. Why?
The four Gospels give us a sad account of His death on the cross. The readings are vivid, touching and gripping. Yet, we are left unmoved. It is baffling. Have many narrations of the story of Calvary made it less appealing? Are His 5455 wounds less painful because we cannot feel them? Is His blood thinner than ours? Have 2000 years blurred the memory of His poignant sacrifice?
Centuries before Calvary, Abraham and Issac demonstrated that doing God`s will was all they wanted. Issac did not protest as he was mounted on the sacrificial altar. He obeyed his father, even as his father obeyed God. The happening was a fore runner to the sacrifice Jesus would make, when He obeyed His father to give up His life to save humankind - the difference being, Issac was saved from a death on the altar, Jesus was not. He did not have to die that tortured death. He chose to die - for us. Offering His blameless life on the cross, He atoned for our transgressions.
Besides the narration in the Gospels on His passion and death, there are torments He suffered at the hands of His brutal executioners. He was forced to stand on a burning metal plate - bare feet. Liquid resin and silver were poured into his wounds. He was burnt with embers and flame. He was forced to sit on a chair with pointed nails. His persecutors devised more and more cruel and dreadfully painful ways to inflict pain on Him. Yet, He did not complain. He bore his suffering as an act of love, even as He forgave those who sadistically tortured and put Him to death.
What did He do deserve that horrible death? He raised the dead to life. He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He consoled the grieving and had compassion on those in trouble. Was He to blame? Were His deeds to blame? Yet he accepted death and the pain that went with it, for us. To redeem us.
What more should He do to gain our attention? What more sacrifice must He make to merit our thanks. What means should He adopt to find a place in our hearts? When will we stop to think? When will our hearts listen? Will we keep the Master waiting?