Today Jesus died for us! His death was not an accident. It was not a tragedy. It was part of God’s plan. As we say in the second Eucharistic prayer he “willingly” gave himself up to death. Jesús eligió con todo su libertad a ofrecer su vida para nosotros a para nuestra salvación.
Nevertheless, there have been theologians in history – and even recently who argue that Jesus did not die for us – that he never even really knew us. He died for his message or for political reasons or simply bad luck. It was only later on Christian started to add extra meaning to his death.
While such a position is clearly contrary to the scriptures – the Church has had to respond to it. In the seminary I read a paper by the Pontifical Theological Commission – a group of theologians especially chosen by the Pope to resolve disputed questions – which dealt with this topic among others.
Of course they said that Jesus death was a sacrifice, that he knew this and that he died willing for the sins of the human race. But I was surprised to read that they went a step further. They stated not only that Jesus had on his mind humanity in an abstract way – but that he had consideration of each and every person for whom he would give his life. That he knew and thought of each person for whom he would die. So that all of us can say literally the words of Saint Paul “Jesus loved me and gave himself up for me.” “Jesús me amó, y se entregó á sí mismo por mí.”
Jesus did not die for a mass of anonymous people – he died for David and Alberto and Megan and Daniel and Lina and Paul and Jeff and me and you. He knew you. He loved you, and because he loved you he gave himself up to death. Por usted Jesús camino el viacrucis, por usted Jesús fue crucificado, por usted Jesús entrego su vida al Dios Padre.
In a moment we will offer our solemn intercessions for many people – Jesus knew each of them – he died for each of them.
Jesus gave his life for our leaders – For Stephen Harper and Kathleen Wynne and Barak Obama and Vladimir Putin and Nicolas Maduro. He knew Bishop Crosby, Bishop Meihm, Cardinal Collins and Pope Francis. Jesus knew them, he died for them.
He knew those who will be baptized and confirmed tomorrow – Dan and Lisa, Chris and Sue and Hoda. He gave his life for them. He has been waiting for this day to give them his grace in the sacraments.
Jesus knew the stillborn baby whose never received a name, the homeless man found dead on the street with no identification – the elderly woman who has a name but she can’t remember it. Jesus knew their names. Jesus loved them. He died for them.
The cross is personal. It touches the life of every person who lived and every person who ever will live. We are a huge crowd, but today we will come to touch the cross one by one – because Jesus has touched us one by one.
“Christ loved me and he gave himself up for me.”
“Jesús me amó, y se entregó á sí mismo por mí.”