What is the cost??
We see it everywhere we turn; price tags on the things we buy. It shows us the total cost. As Catholics, we must think in different terms when we hear the word “cost”. We were all bought and paid for by the blood of Christ. In His perfect passion, Jesus paid the ultimate price to free us from our sins. There is nothing that can take us from His hand after we have accepted His selfless gift of salvation.
As we think of cost, do you ever ask yourself, “What cost do we pay for being Catholic in today’s culture of death?” It is not easy to live a Christian life today in a world where we are caught up in political correctness instead of moral correctness. As you go to church on Sunday do you ever worry about making it to church safe and sound? Recently in France a priest was celebrating the Most Holy Mass and his life was taken from him because of who he was and what he was doing! He paid a price.
We as American Catholics may not face the same kind of persecution or possible imprisonment or death as Paul and the Early Christians did. But persecutions of Christians today is an everyday reality for many trying to spread the Gospel truth in other parts of the world. While we don’t face the same challenges, we do face our own obstacles. Will people laugh at me if I make the sign of the cross and pray over my meal in public? Do I forget to say God Bless you when someone sneezes? Will others think I am weird if I witness my faith at work? What cost is there for me, if I fail to follow God’s law and instead follow man’s desires? When you come right down to it there is a price to pay for our choices, our actions or our inactions.
Yes, living a Christian life does have its costs, but our reward in Heaven is so much more than the rewards that we have on earth. Our parish priest once said that when a rich man dies you don’t see his wealth and possession following his hearst. You can’t take your earthly possessions or wealth with you for our true reward and treasure can only be found with our Savior in Heaven. What greater reward could there be?
I recently became an Extraordinary Minister and as I offer the most precious body of Christ I first gaze upon it then I begin to focus on the meaning of “cost” in a more Heavenly light. As I proceed to offer the Eucharist I look into the recipient's eyes and say the words, “The Body of Christ” Sometimes others do not exchange the glance of an eye to eye. Do some simply fail to understand the enormity of the passion of Christ? That He became the Sacrificial Lamb that takes away the sins of the world? I then have to focus on the cost that Jesus paid by suffering and dying on the cross, the cost the early Christians paid with their lives, the cost that 86 year old Roman Catholic Priest Jacques Hamel of France recently paid; the price that all Christians pay today to serve our risen Lord. When it comes to this year’s Presidential election what price will you pay? Will it cost you your political correctness or your moral convictions taught by the church?
When we look at the cross or gaze upon the most sacred Body of Christ do you truly understand the depths of why Jesus died on the Cross? When we truly realize this we come face-to-face with the unconditional and total love of God for humanity. All of humanity. For the young, the old, for the rich and poor, for those who are in prison, for the homeless and for unborn babies that have no voice and have no choice.
As Catholics the ultimate price for our sins can never be repaid by mankind for it has been paid for by the Blood of Christ who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The cross is, for us, forever an emblem of love, humility and obedience. Christ knew what the ultimate price would be and He remained obedient to His Father’s will. Do we do they same as Christ did, remaining obedient even unto death ( Phil 2:8) or do we seek political correctness instead of moral correctness? Do we follow in the ways of the world or are do we take up our cross and follow Him, in patience, love, respect and humility?
Christ humbled Himself in His death, having been betrayed by Judas, forsaken by His disciples, scorned and rejected by the world, condemned by Pilate, and tormented by His persecutors. After having been haunted with the terrors of death, and powers of darkness, and having felt the weight of the world’s sin, He laid down His life as an offering for our sins, enduring the painful and shameful death on the cross...For His word would be fulfilled: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself” (Jn 12:32)
The Cross equaled the instrument of a shameful death, It was not lawful to condemn a Roman citizen to death by crucifixion, it was too humiliating. The moment that Jesus took up the cross to carry it to Calvary it became a turning-point in the history of the cross. The once symbol of a shameful death, reserved for the lowest classes, that cross that Jesus was hung upon has become a sign of victory and a crown of glory!
The Cross is a divine lesson in obedience and humility. Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:6-8) For as by as one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19) by submitting to death, Jesus had destroyed its power and made eternal life available to everyone.
The Cross, an emblem of suffering and shame became the centerpiece of God’s plan of redemption. Christ suffered in order to leave us a divine example of every virtue which we could imitate-love, charity, obedience, patience and humility.
Jesus offets us His Cross as our lifeline of hope and salvation. He have Nicodemus a sign that he could not miss. Jesus told him, “And as Moses lifted serpent in the wilderness (Num 21:9), so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believed in Him may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:14-16)
In like manner, Jesus had to be lifted up on the Cross so that He could heal our sins. Just as the brass serpent was raised on the pole for the healing of Israel, so Jesus was raised on the Cross for the healing of the world. When Nicodemus saw Christ on the Cross he understood and believed.
When you receive the Most Holy Body of Christ at Mass this Sunday, gaze upon it and see Jesus is present in that consecrated Host. Be like Nicodemus, understand and believe. Remember that Christ was lifted up on that cross for you and for me. He was lifted on that cross to heal us from all our sins and tell Him with your whole heart and soul, “Father in Heaven, thank you for paying the price for our salvation. Help us to live each day in your will no matter what the cost. Amen”