When most people say they are willing to die for this or that, they really mean that they are willing to kill for it.
But when Jesus said it, he meant it.
Faced with the choice to kill or be killed – Jesus chose to be killed. That is not to say that he wanted to die or that he needed to die for any Divine plan to be fulfilled. No. Jesus being killed was the consequence of Jesus choosing not to kill. Jesus chose not to kill because he had already chosen to love. To love without limit. Jesus chose to love without limit because he came to represent God in the world – and that is who God is – love without limit.
According to Jesus, the only way to live life in full abundance is to live life lovingly. To love is to live. To refuse to love (or to kill) is to die. Jesus taught that we couldn’t live lovingly and kill (contrary to what so many in Jesus’ name have taught through the ages). But it is one or the other. There is life and death before us and we cannot choose both! For Jesus to kill was for him to die. This is the topsy-turvy stuff of the Gospel. Call it crazy stuff if we like, but we shouldn’t be surprised because the prophets of old reminded us that, “My ways are not your ways,” says the Lord.
In the world in which we live it is going to take some crazy stuff to save us because the logic of our age and ages past that force can carve out a peaceful future is just causing the rivers of blood to run deeper. Violence (be it international conflict or within our own families) promises what it never ever delivers yet we keep giving it another chance to try. Our addiction to violence is killing us all.
Jesus’ way of unlimited love – the way of the Cross – invites us to live life in a way that brings life … even though it may demand the giving of our life. It is this mystery that the Cross calls us to explore and ultimately give ourselves to. Of course there are huge parts of us that recoil in terror at the thought of this … but if we are still and attentive we may also hear a still small but strong voice whisper to us: “For this you were made. Do not be afraid. Love again. Love some more and more. Give yourself away and you will find yourself. Die and you will live. Trust …
Love some more, Alan