Day Thirty-Nine: Death

Good Friday

Death is frightening only if one dies without faith in God. Though Jesus’ death was excruciatingly painful, He was not afraid. He faced His cross with hope and joy, knowing that it would win for many the gift of eternal life.

Death is required of us in two ways. One death comes at the end of our earthly lives when we will receive our particular judgment and be rewarded or condemned in accord with God’s perfect justice and mercy. The other form of death that is required of us is ongoing and will be the determining factor in our particular judgment. Recall Jesus’ words to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24–25).

Are you willing to die? Are you willing to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow our Lord into your own Good Friday? Pure love is always sacrificial. It’s not an emotion or good feeling. The form of love in which Jesus invites us to participate requires that we die to our own wills and sacrificially give ourselves to others in accord with God’s will.

Sacrifice initially hurts. That is the Cross. But the more we live sacrificially, the more we love. And the more we love, the more we will be driven to give ourselves sacrificially and take great delight in it. We must love to die and die to love. All selfishness must be purged from our actions, making us a total and selfless gift to others in accord with God’s will. One thing Good Friday should teach us is that the perfection of love can have no bounds. There is no limit to how much we must love. Love requires the total sacrifice of our lives.

A perfect icon of love that is placed before us today is our Blessed Mother. John’s Gospel says, “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala” (John 19:25). By standing at the foot of the Cross and gazing at her crucified Son, the love in the Immaculate Mother Mary’s heart expanded beyond comprehension. It was there that she fully consented to her Son’s death and offered herself to the Father’s will in union with her Son’s offering. What went through her mind as she stood there those three hours? Perhaps more than we can imagine. Most importantly, what went through her Immaculate Heart was the perfection of love. Her role at the Cross was to love Jesus with a perfect love. Jesus was keenly aware of that love and permitted Himself to receive the consolation of her love as He suffered and died. The Blessed Mother’s love was made manifest through sacrifice, suffering, and death. Likewise, our love will become more nearly perfect only if we permit sacrifice, suffering, and death to transform our hearts and make them more like Christ’s Heart and His mother’s.

Ponder this scene of pure and unfathomable love that mother and Son shared in the midst of excruciating sacrifice, suffering, and death. Pray that you will be drawn into their Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. Bathe in the mercy that bursts forth from those hearts, and be strengthened to live in union with them.

Most Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, to ponder Your hearts is to ponder the incomprehensible. The depth of love You both bore at the moment of the crucifixion was the climax of human perfection. No love was ever stronger, no compassion ever deeper, no mercy ever greater. Please draw me into the love of Your Hearts so that my life will share in the Sacrifice of the Cross. Mother Mary, pray for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

See also: Day Thirty-Nine: 40 Days at the Foot of the Cross

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