During Lent, through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving we prepare ourselves to enter into Christ’s Passion and Death. Particularly on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, when we read the account of the Passion during the liturgy, we recall the sacrifice and suffering that Christ endured to save us from our sins. But the Passion is not just for Good Friday, and it’s not just an event that happened long ago. If we desire to be disciples of Jesus, we must reflect on the Passion of Christ and imitate His loving sacrifice in our everyday lives.
Dr. Edward Sri, a Catholic theologian and the Vice President of Formation for FOCUS, stopped by A Closer Look™ recently to talk to host Sheila Liaugminas about why reflecting on and entering into Christ’s Passion isn’t just for Lent, but should be a year-round activity.
On why it is so necessary for Christians to continually meditate on Christ’s Passion, Sri said, “It’s the climax of all of salvation history. It’s the center of our faith, what happens on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.”
Sri also pointed out that Lent is a gift, in that it allows us the opportunity to imitate Jesus in a particularly beautiful way through our own Lenten sacrifices. He said, “The Lenten season is all meant to help us enter into Christ’s Passion more, to experience God’s love and mercy more, to make sacrifices so that we can be conformed more to the way Jesus lived.”
And although Lent is a special time when we are given the opportunity to meditate on Christ’s sacrifice, if we leave that devotion behind after Lent we are missing out on the opportunity to imitate Christ and be transformed as His disciples.
“Christ’s whole life is worthy of imitation, and we always emphasize in our Catholic faith that it’s His Passion that is meant to be reproduced in our lives over and over again in many small ways,” Sri said. “Whether it’s laying down my life in little ways for my children, forgiving a person in the office when I feel they let me down or they hurt me in some way, serving and being thoughtful of my spouse. We are called every day to live that perfect self-giving love of Christ in our daily lives.”
Illustrating the particular ways that imitating Christ in His Passion can lead us to holiness, Sri said, “When you look at the Passion accounts you see that love, you see His humility, you see His forgiveness, you see His mercy, you see His taking on of suffering, you see His patience. So many ways that we can imitate Him in our daily lives.”
Jesus told his disciples, in unequivocal terms, what we must do to follow Him. He told them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” So if we wish to be followers of Jesus, we cannot treat His Passion as an event that happened long ago, but as something we are called to participate in every day of our lives.
“We don’t just sit back and admire Jesus and what He did for us on Good Friday,” said Sri. “Jesus does not want our applause, He wants our hearts. And will we allow our hearts to be changed this Lent to allow His love to radiate through us more, to incrementally grow in little ways of living like Him?”
Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Edward Sri below: