The basis of life is love:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength, and love
your neighbor as yourself (Mk. -31).
Because of our sinfulness, none of us is capable of loving God and our
neighbors in such a complete and perfect manner. Only Jesus Christ truly loved
everyone, even His enemies.
His infinite love was evidenced in His every word and deed. Being the
only-begotten Son of God and God Himself, Jesus Christ in His pity for us came
down from Heaven and was incarnate, becoming in everything the same as us,
except in sin. Being the Sovereign Heavenly King, before Whom
all Angels and creatures tremble, He deigned to take on the image of an
ordinary person, to restore our corrupted nature. While possessing all the
treasures of the world, He agreed to be born in poverty, lying in a manger in a
Being the supreme Lawgiver, Jesus Christ during His earthly life humbly
submitted to all the decrees and commandments of the Jewish religious law.
Thus, on the eighth day after His birth, He submitted to circumcision, and on
the fortieth day His Mother brought Him into the temple and there paid the
redemption fee for Him, the Ruler of the Universe. As was fitting for a boy and
then later a youth, He always obeyed His earthly Mother and helped His foster
father, the elderly Joseph. Once mature, He treated the Jewish elders and
leaders with respect, as well as the Roman governors, and paid the required
taxes. He willingly lived in poverty and often, while travelling to preach, had
no place to rest His head. Christ, to Whom all nature
submits, Himself served people and even washed the feet of His disciples, who
were uneducated fishermen.
Jesus Christ constantly prayed to His Heavenly Father, even at night when
the others were asleep. On Sabbath days at a synagogue, He took part in the
communal prayers and the reading of the Scriptures, and on the major feast days
He made pilgrimages to the temple at Jerusalem.
With all His love and diligence Jesus fulfilled that commission for which
His Heavenly Father sent Him, directing everything toward His Father’s glory.
He felt pity for all people, especially for the poor and underprivileged,
wished well to everyone, and was willing to bear anything in order to ease
their suffering. He bore all conceivable affronts and insults from the
ungrateful crowd with the greatest meekness, and did not vent His anger on
those who slandered Him and plotted intrigues against Him. Some who bore Christ
ill-will called Him a sinner and lawbreaker; others called Him a carpenter’s
son and a shallow person; still others said He was a friend of drunkards and
sinners. On several occasions Christ’s enemies attempted to stone Him or toss
Him from a mountaintop. Jewish scribes called His divine teachings deceitful;
and when He healed the sick, raised the dead, or exorcised demons, they explained
away these miracles as the deeds of an evil spirit. Some even openly called Him
possessed. The Lord Jesus, being Almighty God, could have destroyed them all
with one word. Instead, He pitied them as spiritually blind and prayed for
their welfare and for their salvation.
In brief, from His early youth till His very death, Jesus Christ constantly
did good to all people, even when, instead of being
grateful to Him, they caused Him anguish and pain. He was especially hated by
the Jewish elders, high priests, and scribes — whose mission it was to teach
the people goodness and to lead them toward faith. They worked with all their
might to keep the people from believing in Jesus as the God-sent Messiah,
distorting the meaning of the prophecies that predicted His coming. They
contradicted all that He said or did. Jesus did not grieve so much that the
Jewish leaders fought against Him as He did from the fact that they were
rushing blindly toward doom, taking the simple people along with them.
Not long before His death, Jesus worked His greatest miracle: He resurrected
Lazarus, who had already been in the grave for four days and whose body had
started to decompose. This miracle took place in the presence of a great crowd
and made an overwhelming impression on them all. After this miracle, many of
the unbelieving Jews started to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. But the high
priests and the scribes, being envious of His fame, hastily gathered and
decided to put Christ to death without delay, together with Lazarus whom He had
Knowing that the days of His earthly life were drawing to an end, Christ
gathered his disciples in a room near MountZion for the mystical last supper.
Here He instituted the Mystery of Holy Communion and gave His last commandments
to the disciples. After that He went to the garden
of Gethsemane, where He experienced
His most agonizing inner sufferings. The anguish was so great that during
prayer the sweat on His face became a sweat of blood. At that moment the soul
of the Savior was immersed into a terrible darkness and horror at the
unbearable sins which He was taking upon Himself. Jesus knew that he had to
wash away with His most Holy blood all the countless transgressions of billions
of people, beginning with Adam and including all future generations.
Overwhelmed by the oppression of the world’s evil, Jesus Christ exclaimed:
"My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death" (Matt.
No one can truly comprehend what the pure soul of the God-man experienced in
the garden of Gethsemane.
You can imagine, however, that all the loathsome sins of mankind were revealed
to Him in all their ugliness and that the pure soul of the God-man was shocked
and depressed by this terrible sight. Christ knew that His great sufferings and
boundless love would be appreciated by only a few, that the majority of the
people would turn away from Him with indifference, and that some would reject
His teachings and would cruelly persecute those who believed in Him. He foresaw
that among His followers there would be many hypocrites who would turn faith
into a means for profit and that there would be false teachers and false prophets who would distort His teachings and who, because of
pride and greed, would entice the faithful into harmful sects. He foresaw that
false pastors would appear, who, because of ambition,
would create schisms in the Church. Christ knew not only that many Christians
would fail to love God and live righteously but also that they would give
themselves to heinous crimes and vices, so that by their sins they would even
surpass pagans, and as a result the Christian faith would be scandalized.
In these most trying sufferings, while justice and loyalty to His Father
demanded from Christ that He destroy mankind as ungrateful and criminal, the feelings
of pity and sorrow ultimately stirred Him to accept all sufferings and death
itself to save us sinners from the power of the devil and from eternal
While Jesus was still praying, a mob with torches and clubs, along with some
soldiers who were sent by the Jewish elders, came into the garden. They bound
Him and dragged Him, as they would an evildoer, to the high priest for trial.
The Apostles, whom He loved so much and brought so close to Himself,
faintheartedly left Him and fled. Then the leaders and all the Sanhedrin
quickly assembled at the home of the high priest, where they brought a
multitude of the most ridiculous accusations against Christ. None of these,
however, was enough to warrant a sentence of death. The high priest demanded that
Jesus, while He was under oath, state whether or not He was the promised
Messiah, the Son of God. After He affirmed that He was, the Sanhedrin accused
Him of blasphemy and sentenced Him to death. After this, the members of the
council, unable to hold back their hatred of Jesus any longer, surrounded Him
and subjected Him to beatings and all kinds of insults.
The Romans, however, had deprived the Sanhedrin of the power to execute
anyone. So, the next morning, on Friday, the day before the Passover, the Jewish
leaders brought Jesus Christ to a new trial before the Roman governor Pontius
Pilate, hoping that Pilate would affirm their decision. Pilate,
realizing that they were accusing Christ out of envy, wanted to let Him go.
But the high priests and elders threatened that they would complain about him
to the Roman emperor. Not wishing to jeopardize his career, Pilate decided to
address the people who had gathered there. Reminding the people of the custom
to free some prisoner on the eve of the Passover holiday, Pilate asked them
which of the two they would want him to set free: Barabbas or Christ (Barabbas
was a robber who had been imprisoned for some crime). While the mob of people were talking among themselves, the Jewish
leaders convinced them to ask for Barabbas’ release and to demand that Christ
be crucified on the cross.
The people forgot the innumerable good deeds of Christ: from how many of
them He had exorcised demons, how many He had healed of leprosy, blindness,
weakness and other incurable diseases, how many He had turned from debauchery
to the path of goodness, and to how many of the despairing He had returned
The Roman soldiers submitted the Lord to scourging and cursing. Finally they
placed on Him a purple cloak and on His head a crown of thorns. Pilate then
brought out the wounded Christ, hoping the people would feel pity and ask for
His release. Instead they began to shout, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"
On hearing this, Pilate decided to give up. He halfheartedly washed his hands as
a sign of non-participation in the conviction of an innocent man, ordered the
release of Barabbas, and handed Christ over to the Jewish leaders for them to
The soldiers gave Christ the wooden cross on which He was to be crucified
and ordered Him to carry it to the execution site, known as Golgotha
(meaning "place of the skull"). There they removed His outer clothing
and nailed Him to the cross. Two robbers, one on either side, were crucified
with Him. Thus, in the most humiliating circumstances, as if He were a great
criminal, they executed the One Who with the divine light dispelled the
darkness of fallacies and Who with His boundless love
defeated hate! Dear God! How cruel and blind people can be!
But those who hated Christ could not satisfy their hatred. Even on the dying
Sufferer they piled more curses and with sneers demanded a miracle. When He
asked for water to quench His thirst, they gave Him vinegar. And thus, deserted
by all, wounded, bleeding and suffocating, fatigued by an unbearable thirst, He,
the one who once breathed life into the first man, died the cruelest of deaths!
Even soulless nature recoiled at this crime: the sun darkened and the earth
For whom, then, did the Savior of the world suffer? He suffered for all
mankind, for enemies and tormentors, for those who, having received many
benefits from Him, failed to thank Him. He suffered for each and every one of
us, stubborn sinners, who daily sadden Him with our indifference, ingratitude,
hatred, lies, and wicked deeds, and who, by these innumerable sins, crucify Him
again and again.
In order to appreciate more fully the boundless love of Jesus Christ and the
extent of His sacrifice, let us remind ourselves how great He is and how
insignificant we are. Indeed, Christ is the true God, equal to the Father and
the Holy Spirit. He resides in an unreachable world, this all powerful Creator
of the universe, this immortal King before whom bow
countless hosts of angels. He is the undying fountain of life, the Lord of all
that is visible and invisible, the formidable Judge of the living and the dead.
This same Jesus suffered for us sinful and worthless creatures. Who can
comprehend this mystery of Godly Love?