Recently I was pondering the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, the Crucifixion, while praying the rosary, and had a new thought (new to me I mean).
I tried to look at it from God’s perspective: What is it about Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross that God wants us to emulate? There must be something in it which is essential to God, which God wants to communicate about himself to us. But how can sacrifice be essential to God? Considered in himself, in his own nature, apart from creation, he doesn’t sacrifice himself. He certainly doesn’t die. So why is he expressing himself to us through Christ on the Cross?
I wondered if maybe it’s not sacrifice per se. Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” OK, but again, God (in his divine nature) doesn’t lay down his life. So maybe it’s not the dying, per se, either, that God is expressing about himself. What then?
It has to do with love, but it’s not sacrifice and it’s not dying — it may involve sacrifice or dying, but it’s not those things essentially.
Maybe what Jesus was illustrating about God, which we can emulate, was service. He that is greatest among you shall be your servant. When someone asks for your coat, give him your shirt as well. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
But in what ways does God act as a servant to us? I mean, apart from the Incarnation.
Maybe in not only creating but also constantly holding all creation in existence from moment to moment. Is that not an act of service to us? We can’t give existence to ourselves, nor maintain ourselves in existence without the things around us which sustain our existence — not merely food and water, but the very laws of nature which hold our bodies together.
All this is of no benefit to God. He does this for no reason than to provide us with life and sustenance. In this sense God serves us constantly, receiving nothing in return.
When he sent his Son to be incarnated, and live a human life, and offer himself in sacrifice to provide us with a way of salvation, he was continuing this pattern of service to us; while at the same time, giving us graphic and unmistakable illustrations of the extent to which we are to serve one another.
So we are to be like God in serving one another, even to the point of death, if not physical death than death-to-self. Sell all you have and give to the poor. Turn the other cheek. Resist sin even to the point of shedding blood. Take up your cross and follow me.