Lately the posting has been spotty. Every time I hit the publish button I feel a sense of relief. It feels good to be back. I should visit my old friend more often. Writing is so very cathartic for me.
I'm weird like that.
However, life moves at a pace that makes sitting down to write feel like a luxury (kind of like sitting down to lunch which I do on the rare occasions I go out) rather than a necessity. It gets put at the end of the long "to do" lists and by the time I make it to the end, there's no more doing left in me.
Something occurred to me tonight though that made me make the sacrifice of losing sleep in order to write. We watched The Passion of the Christ. Since the movie came out, we've made viewing it part of our Lenten tradition. If you live under a rock and haven't seen it, do. That being said, I totally get why some people can't. It is the hardest movie I've ever loved to watch (does that make sense?).
Over time, we have "prettied up" the Passion a bit. We've made it less gory, less gruesome, less hard to swallow by tying it up in a neat little package of the images of the Stations of the Cross and the Crucifixes that hang in Catholic churches. Some churches don't even use the Crucifix because it is so very horrid. I get that too.
This movie doesn't pretty up one single moment. It is appalling and disgusting and terrible in its portrayal of Jesus' suffering and death. It is, I think, the closest thing out there to the real deal. It's gut wrenching just like it should be. It gives Good Friday and whole new meaning.
For all of those reasons, it is also a beautiful film. It moves me...every time.
Tonight though, there was one line that echoed in my mind long after the credits rolled.
"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."
You know the scene. Jesus is sitting at the table with his disciples, the day before His death. It is the Last Supper. It is heavy with a literal meaning that no one but Jesus understands. It is the truth He lived and died for - us, His friends.
Suddenly I found myself at that table. I feel for Peter as he tells Jesus, he would follow Him to death, then within hours, denies ever knowing Him. Sacrifice, I have learned is all nice and good, until you have to do it.
I, like Peter, want to do that, but how can I? I hear Jesus speaking to me in the midst of hearing the actor say his lines.
You do it every day.
Then, just to drive His point home, He shows me how. God's good to me that way.
When you drop everything to visit a friend in the hospital, you lay down your life.
When you cook a meal for someone, you lay down your life.
When you stay up later than you want because someone needs your ear, you lay down your life.
When you go out of your way to drop someone off, you lay down your life.
When you open your home to house guests, you lay down your life.
When you bring a forgotten lunch, project, or book to school, you lay down your life.
When you make a call just to check in on someone, you lay down your life.
You don't lay down your life because someone tells you to. You don't lay it down because of guilt. When you lay down your life, you do it out of love.
Of course, the disciples, most of them at least, very literally lived out the words of Jesus. I, thanks be to God, have not been called to be a martyr. At least, not yet. I have, however, often thought it's not such a bad way to go. In the Catholic Church, dying a martyr for your faith is pretty much considered a ticket straight to Heaven...some days I feel as though this may be my best shot. I'd like to think I could do it though I'm not so naive to say that without a doubt. Staring death in the face does not often bring out the best in people.
Watching Jesus suffer for my sins on a big screen brings out a strong desire to live up to my full potential. Jesus died for me; therefore I should live for Him. At the same time, it hits me with a twinge of guilt that I'm not doing anything remotely close to that. But Jesus, because He loves me, gently used that movie tonight to remind me that I do sometimes get it right.
If you're a parent, you have learned the art of laying down your life for your friend. If you're caring for a parent, you are laying down your life. If you're silently suffering and offering it up, you too are laying down your life.
Those are heroic acts of love and Jesus sees them.
In this final week of Lent, let's bring it home strong. Let's not forget He died for us. Let's live our lives for Him!