UCAN Spirituality Catholic Church News

The Meaning of Sacrifice

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Dr Chris Anthony

Once again we are in the season of Lent. Lent carries different meaning for different people. To us Catholics it should be a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, who laid down his life on the cross for us. There is no greater love than that ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

To some of us fasting, abstinence, the way of the cross and prayer are what Lent is all about. To others it is a time of abstinence from the pleasures of our senses. This may be true to some extent but these acts are in a way are for our own selfish purposes and nothing more.

Christ did not die on the cross for his selfish needs. No one in his right mind will allow himself to be crucified for his selfish reasons. As the followers of Christ, we are asked to emulate that ultimate sacrifice of Christ, the crucifixion.

We need not literally lay down our lives for others but we can sacrifice some precious possessions of ours – our time, energy and wealth for the betterment of fellow mankind. At the same we can give up something which we all possess in abundance – pride, selfishness, ego, anger and greed which impede our endeavors to serve others.

Do we see Jesus in people whom we meet daily – our spouse, our children, our parents, our boss and fellow colleagues in the office, the poor and hungry, the sick and the dying, the handicapped, the sinner, the orphans, our priests and clergy and even our enemies?

Are we willing to forgive and offer our hand of friendship to our enemies and those who sin against us? Are we sensitive to the needs of others around us, or do we close our eyes and ears to their cries of plea? Are we willing to go down to the level of the downtrodden to help them? Are we willing to patiently listen to those in distress? Are we willing and brave enough to speak out against injustice wherever it occurs?

These are some issues we must ponder during this season of Lent. We must consider them in the light of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, the crucifixion.

The real meaning of Lent is sacrifice, not for our well-being but that of others. Fasting, abstinence and prayer are just a means to achieve that goal.

 

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Christ’s death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”, and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the “blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.…

It is love “to the end”that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life….