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Even Suffering and Death Cannot Overpower God's Love For Us | A Palm Sunday Homily | Deacon Harold
Burke-Sivers | April 5, 2009 | Ignatius Insight
Why did Jesus have to die?
God wanted to show us, once
and for all, that despite our sin He loves us and wants to save us. "By
embracing in His human heart the Father's love for men,"  Jesus showed
us that by freely choosing to do the Father's will, by freely choosing what is
good, what is true, what is beautiful, that even suffering and death cannot
overpower God's love for us.
God literally loves us to
death. In his suffering and death, Christ's humanity became the free and
perfect instrument of the Father's divine love, which desires our salvation.
 He sent His only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is True God from True God,
to die in order to show us that in freely giving up that which is most precious
to us, our very lives, in order to do the Father's will that God will give us
everlasting life. Jesus shows us that even in the darkest hour of our lives,
God's love knows no end. Even in the hardships of everyday life, God's love
knows no bounds. Even in our suffering and death, God's love holds nothing
But God does not ask all of
us to suffer physical death for His sake. All He asks is that we freely choose
to die to our own sinful actions, our own selfish desires, to sacrifice those
things that do not lead us to our Ultimate End. God knows that this is not
always easy for us but if we really and truly desire intimate relationship with
our Heavenly Father then we must be receptive and obedient to His love and
will, and we can only do this when we humble ourselves and become reconciled
with Him through the Cross of Jesus Christ. God sent his Son, Jesus the
Carpenter, to give us the tools of grace and faith, together with His own Body
and Blood to strengthen us as we carry the cross in our own lives.
The Lord Jesus, who is the
Way, the Truth, and the Life, preached the truth and they killed him. Many
saints of the Church, like Saints Agnes, Lucy, and Perpetua, were brutally
tortured and killed because they would not compromise their most beloved and
prized possession—the great gift of their Catholic faith.
Yet today, almost on a daily
basis, we hear of so-called "Catholic" politicians and institutions of higher
education that undermine and ignore their Catholic identity for thirty pieces
of silver. Christ did not die so that his teachings could be changed by the
culture: Christ died so that his Love and his Truth could change the world! We,
in turn, must die to the ways of this world so that Christ can live in us. The
question we must ask ourselves is this: if it were still a crime today to be a
follower of Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict us?
Here is the truth: the Lord
God suffered and died to save us from sin and death therefore we are not
disgraced! Salvation does not come from us willing it; salvation comes from
only one Source: the One True God--the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God
of Peter, James and John; the God of Muslims, Jews and Atheists—and He is
none other than our Lord Jesus Christ!
He is the God of Isaiah, who
foretold His coming and who tells us that the Savior gave his back to those who
beat him, his cheeks to those who plucked his beard, his face to buffets and
spitting. He is the God of Saint Paul who tells us that His name is above every
other name, and that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven, on
earth and in Hell, and that every
tongue proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord.
When we compromise our
Catholic faith out of arrogance, we join our voices to an anemic culture that
shouts, "Crucify Him!"
When we start believing in
the false god of our misinformed conscience, we join with this culture of death
in driving the nails deeper into the body of Christ.
When we substitute our
religious faith for a nebulous "spirituality" that ignores the Holy Eucharist
as the source and center of our faith, we look up at the crucified Christ and
say with the Scribes and Pharisees, "Save Yourself."
The truth and beauty of Sacred Scripture cries out to us loud and clear
that the idols of men are merely silver and gold, the work of human hands. The
psalmist describes the fruits of this culture: "they have mouths but they
cannot speak; they have eyes but they cannot see; they have ears but they
cannot hear ... no sound comes from their throats. Their makers will come to be
like them and so will all who trust in them." 
My brothers and sisters in
Christ, it is the Holy Spirit that allows the seed of faith to take root and
grow in us, and if we freely and lovingly cooperate with what God wants to do
in us, our lives will bear much fruit. Like the woman who broke the jar of oil
over Jesus, we must break ourselves open and pour ourselves out in love before the
Sometimes this means
picking-up our cross and following Christ with the understanding that living
the Truth--that being the people who God created us to be, made in His image
and likeness--means setting our faces like flint knowing that we shall not be
put to shame.  It is in these moments--in the total offering of ourselves in
love to the Other, in the sublime moment of complete giftedness--that we
discover it is in giving ourselves away that we truly find ourselves.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 609.
 Psalm 115.
 Cf. Isaiah 50:7.
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles, Excerpts, & Interviews:
The Truth of the Resurrection |
Excerpts from Introduction to Christianity | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
For Us | Hans Urs von Balthasar
of Suffering, The Response of the Cross | Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Resurrection and Real Justice | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
Easter: The Defiant Feast | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
Easter Delivers Us From Evil | Carl E. Olson
The Easter Triduum: Entering into the Paschal Mystery | Carl E. Olson
The Paradox of Good Friday | Carl E. Olson
Harold Burke-Sivers, MTS is a deacon in the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, and
the founder of Aurem
Cordis, an apostolate dedicated "to promote the truth and beauty
of the gospel by encouraging others to submit themselves freely to the
life-giving love of the Trinity and to become living witnesses to that
love in the world." Deacon Burke-Sivers gives talks around the country
on spirituality, family life, lay vocations, and other topics, and has
appeared on "Catholic Answers Live", EWTN, and many local television and
radio programs. He has a BA in economics from Notre Dame and an MTS from
the University of Dallas. He, his wife Colleen, and their four children
live in Portland, Oregon.
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