A Unique Power

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  4/10/2000
 

"The Father loves me for this: that I lay down my life to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down freely. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again" (Jn. 10:18).

"I have power to lay it down." What kind of power is Jesus talking about? We can understand that taking His life back up from the grave requires power. But what kind of "power" does He need to submit to His death?

This relates to another question based on St. Paul's assertion that God the Father "did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over for the sake of us all…" (Rom. 8:32). How could the all-loving, all-perfect Father hand His only Son over to torture, shame, abandonment, crucifixion, and death?

The answer is that the Father inspired in the Son so much love that the Son did not hesitate to endure those evils in order to save us. The Father did not do evil -- He did good, He inspired love. Love, in turn, makes us vulnerable, ready to suffer for the beloved.

That's the "power" Jesus had in order to lay down His life. That's the power He offers us as well. Hence, John Paul II writes the following in Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life):

"He who had come 'not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many' (Mk 10:45), attains on the Cross the heights of love: 'Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' (Jn 15:13). And he died for us while we were yet sinners (cf. Rom 5:8).

In this way Jesus proclaims that life finds its center, its meaning and its fulfillment when it is given up.

At this point our meditation becomes praise and thanksgiving, and at the same time urges us to imitate Christ and follow in his footsteps (cf. 1 Pt 2:21).

We too are called to give our lives for our brothers and sisters, and thus to realize in the fullness of truth the meaning and destiny of our existence." -- EV #51

What better celebration of Holy Week and Easter can there be than to live these words? To observe these Sacred Days, especially in this Jubilee Year, means to re-evaluate the very meaning and purpose of our lives and activities. " Life finds its center, its meaning and its fulfillment when it is given up," when it is offered in service of others.

Love costs. That is especially true today when you try to love the unborn. So many in the pro-life movement sacrifice their ease, their popularity, their money, and their freedom. The call to give our lives for our brothers and sisters does not allow exclusions or exceptions. It demands that we love those who are most marginalized -- even denied their very personhood.