The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary

The First Reading of the Mass recounts the intercession of Moses before Yahweh so that he would not punish the unfaithfulness of his people. He gives moving arguments: the good name of the Lord before the Gentiles, fidelity to the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants.... In spite of the unfaithfulness and the ravings of the Chosen People, the Lord forgives once again. Moreover, God's love for his people and, through them, for the whole human race will reach its supreme manifestation: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Christ's complete self-giving for us, culminating on Calvary, constitutes the most pressing call to correspond to his great love for each one of us. On the Cross, Jesus consummated his complete surrender to the will of the Father and his love for all men, for each one of us: he loved me and gave himself for me. Before this unfathomable mystery of Love, I should ask myself: what do I do for him, how do I correspond to his Love?

On Calvary, Our Lord, Priest and Victim, offered himself to his heavenly Father, shedding his Blood, which was then separated from his Body. He thus fulfilled, to the end, the will of the Father.

It was the Father's wish that the Redemption should be accomplished in this way; Jesus accepts it with love and utmost submission. This inner offering of Himself is the essence of His sacrifice. It is the loving surrender, without limits, to the will of the Father.

In every true sacrifice there are four essential elements, and all of them are present in the sacrifice of the Cross: priest, victim, inner offering and external manifestation of the sacrifice. The external manifestation must be an expression of the interior attitude. Jesus dies on the Cross, manifesting outwardly - through his words and deeds - his loving interior self-giving. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: the mission you entrusted to me is finished, I have fulfilled your will. He is, then and now, the Priest and the Victim: Having, then, a great High Priest who has entered the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to the faith we profess. We do not have a Supreme Pontiff who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses; rather, he was tested in every way, in our likeness, out of sin.

This interior offering of Jesus gives full meaning to all the external elements of his voluntary sacrifice: the crucifixion, the spoliation, the insults....

The Sacrifice of the Cross is unique. Priest and Victim are one and the same divine person: the incarnate Son of God. Jesus was not offered to the Father by Pilate or by Caiaphas, or by the multitude gathered at his feet. It was He who gave Himself. At every moment of his earthly life, Jesus lived in perfect identification with the will of the Father, but it is on Calvary that the Son's self-giving reaches its supreme expression.

We, who want to imitate Jesus, who only desire that our life be a reflection of his, must ask ourselves in our prayer today if we know how to unite ourselves to Jesus' offering to the Father, with the acceptance of God's will, in every moment, in the joys and in the setbacks, in the things that occupy our daily lives, in the most difficult moments, such as failure, pain or illness, and in the easy moments in which we feel our soul filled with joy.

My Mother and my Lady, teach me to pronounce a yes that, like yours, identifies with the cry of Jesus before his Father: non mea voluntas..." (Lk 22:42). (Lk 22:42): not my will, but God's will be done".