Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Question: Why Did Christ Die?

Father John J. Lombardi

Answer: "The Son of Man has come to give His life as a ransom for the many" (Mt. 20:28). Pray: Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ: free me, heal me. And so: Cling to the King. This is no ordinary king. No: Christ dies for us. "I Lay down My life for My sheep" (Jn. 10:15)-- Cling to Him.

"Apart from the Cross there is no other ladder that will get you to heaven." -St Rose of Lima. She was the attractive girl whom the guys liked and who defaced herself-literally--she wasn't into the medieval Peruvian cosmetic industry!--and thoroughly embraced the cross-shunning earthly honors and esteem-- and led a life of devotion to the Divine King-and became a saint. Will you? Remember, St Rose may have heard the Bible at Mass: "Christ suffered for you and left an example for you to follow" (I Pt. 2:21). The spark of His Most Precious Blood brings healing, reconciliation, oneness. Emulate Him. Imitate Him.

"Hail, O Cross, our only Hope."- Vespers of Holy Week."The Cross is foolishness to those perishing in the world but to us being saved it is the power of God" ( ). Know and live this Divine Wisdom. Sufferings are God's Wisdom and Power to teach us in ways we will not ordinarily learn. St Ignatius, Soldier Saint, says: "Within Thy Wounds, O Christ, hide me." Let us borough into those Five Wounds of the Christ and gain wisdom, power, healing and comfort!

Think of Christ much this Holy Week, especially Who says: "The Father loves Me because I lay down My Life for the sheep" (St Jn.10:17). Lay down your life for your spouse, your parents, your children, your co-workers. Die to self, live for God.

This Passion-Palm Sunday, perhaps you may ask: Just why did Jesus Christ Die? Five Simple R-words: Ransom us from sin, Hell and death (I Pt.1:18); to Reconcile us to the Father (II Cor. 5:17ff); to Redeem us (Rm 5:19); to Reveal Heroic Love (Jn 10:17); and to Regenerate us in His Most Precious Blood (Mt. 26:28; Jn. 2:21).This is the Holiest week of the year for Catholics and Christians. Make it holy by prayer, almsgiving, fasting and, especially, reflection upon the Passion and Death of Our Savior Jesus Christ. So, Why Did Jesus die? Here are some meditations for your Holy Week…

Jesus Christ is the Priest, Altar and Victim: All in One: He embodies these three important attributes of Sacrifice. Ancients and Jews looked to a place for sacrifice-we look to a Person-Jesus Christ-for our atoning sacrifice. Some rely on human priests for their sacrifices: Catholics teach and believe Christ the High Priest is in our Catholic celebrating priests offering the sacrifice-they are called "alter Christus-an "other Christ" by their sacred ordination . Some still use goats and sheep for sacrifice: we rely on Jesus Christ. "For every High Priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices" (Heb. 8:3). Christ fulfills this every time we go to Mass-so keep going!

True Love: "The way we came to know love is this: he laid down His life for us" (I Jn. 3:16). Do you sacrifice your life for others?

To free us from sin: "For every priest is taken from men..to offer sacrifice for sins" (Heb.5:1). "So whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old has passed, behold all things are new. And all of this is from God Who has reconciled Himself to us thru Christ" (II Cor 5:17). Christ "Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity" (Tit 2:14)."Who gave Himself a redemption for all" (I Tim 2:6). He gives us the opportunity to turn away from sin and turn to Him-will you?

Overcoming Legalism: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law" (Gal 3:13). Do you try to work your way to Heaven and Holiness by your "spiritual performance"-following only laws-- or by the Grace and Blood of the Christ?

To show us heroic courage: "Shall I not drink the Cup which the Father has given Me?" (Jn. 18:11). HE does not flinch-will you?

Took death to Transform it: "He has destroyed death" (II Tim 2:10)

"This cup is the new covenant in My Blood which will be shed for you" (Lk. 22:20) Notice; as Christ offered His own Blood in the then-present for His disciples at the Last Supper He speaks also in the future tense, namely-of His Sacrifice on the Cross yet-to-come and also in the Mass. Death, then, is a portal to Eternal Life.

To reconcile us: "When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son" (Rom 5:10). We were apart from God-separated; but Christ made us One in His Sacred Atonement: At-One-ment.

To give us His Most Precious Blood: "One soldier thrust his lance into His (Jesus') side and immediately flowed out blood and water" (St Jn. 19:34)."Since the life of the living is in the blood I have made you spread it upon the altar so that atonement may be made…" (Lv. 17:11). Go to His Saving Side and Drink often of His Blood which redeems, soothes, regenerates and divinizes.

He ransomed us: "You were ransomed from your futile ways….not by gold or silver but with the precious blood of Christ the spotless lamb" (I Pt. 1:18). We-humanity-we "spiritually hijacked-kidnapped"-by the Devil and the world apart from God. Christ gave Himself over for us to free and ransom us. He paid the price for us-will you for others?

Fulfillment for the Messiah: In Isaiah. 53:4ff we read the following prophecies of the Suffering Messiah: He "makes himself an offering for sin";when "he bore the sins of many" and who "shall make many to be righteous." And: Jesus began to show His disciples that He must suffer greatly at the hands of the priests, scribes and Pharisees and be killed" (Mt 16:21). Let us pray for all peoples to come to the Christ as Savior and Lord.

To give us an example: "Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life (Jn 15:13). We are not always courageous-but Christ is and gives us a living testimony to Love our Faith and others.

To give us Himself-esp in the Holy Eucharist: "Whoever possesses the son has life" (I Jn. 5:12). "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood will abide in Me and I in him" (Jn. 6:56). "This is My Body which is given for you" (Lk. 22:19). "This My Blood which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt. 26:28). Do you really believe-and practice that He gives us Himself in the Mass which is a sacred continuation of His Passion and Death?

Visceral Love: "This is the One Who came thru water and blood" (I Jn. 5:6). How many teachers do you know who will literally give their blood and guts for others?

Christ didn't let anything stop Him from His Passion for us.

Remember: "The most important act of sacrifice is the inner act of self-surrender to God (Ludwig Ott). The Lord Jesus showed us this because He wanted us to see and experience a Way to Heaven and Holiness. So emulate and imitate Him by embracing and exemplifying this inner act of self surrender

Was Christ Too busy to come down from Heaven for you? Are you too busy for Him this Sacred Week? Though God and in command of a billion souls, no, He wasn't too busy-He came down for us to save and redeem us

The Passion

A Harrisburg Priest was once asked why he didn't see Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ," and he responded that he indeed saw Christ's Passion in the loneliness of people he served; in couples whom were bickering; in the elderly in nursing homes who were lonely; in drug addicts he visited; in a person who lost a job. The priest said he did not have to go a movie to see The Passion of Christ-he saw the It lived out in his daily world. Do you?

Mother Teresa once said to her sisters in Calcutta and throughout the world that if you do not encounter Christ in the poor and in others then you will not see Him in the Holy Eucharist. Look for Christ as He continues His Passion today.

To do During Holy Week:

Mediate upon the Gospel narratives at the end of each Gospel .St Teresa of Avila said these are the most fruitful mediations for our souls.

  • Walk the stations of the Cross: They keep alive Christ's Passion for you
  • Holy Silence: turn off the radio and tv and embrace silence with the Savior
  • Mass: go to it-you are going to Jesus Himself.
  • Do good deeds as Jesus did.
  • Make a confession-soon: It is Christ's Divine Mercy coming to your soul!

Seminarian Chad Arnold (of Kansas) recently gave a talk to our altar boys. He said, describing his life before the seminary: "I'm was happy, yes, but there was s something missing…One night I heard God asking for something more. I then decided to make a sacrifice and enter the priesthood." What sacrifices will you make?

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi