No one has greater love that this; to lay down one's life for one's friends

Father James Wilcox

Vocations Director

North Texas Catholic

10/19/2015

How often do we really have the opportunity to sacrifice for another?  Perhaps you can recall a time when parents have made a sacrifice for their children and when spouses have made a sacrifice for each other. These selfless acts are daily occurrences for many.

Giving of ourselves for those not part of our immediate family, perhaps even for our enemies, can be more challenging. Yet, this is how the Lord calls us to live — to love one another unto death.  

No one has greater love than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

The Vocations Office chose these words of our Lord and Savior as the theme this year to emphasize the importance of sacrifice in the lives of the priest, of those in consecrated life, and of the laity. These powerful words remind those who are called, that the life of the priest is one of sacrifice: to offer daily the Holy Mass; to pray for and serve the souls in his stead; and to be a beacon to the world of Christ’s unending love.

Furthermore, these words remind all priests of their ordination day when they lay prostrate before the altar, praying in union with all present to God, calling on the intercession of the saints and the whole Church, asking that he be blessed, sanctified, and consecrated for the priesthood. He participates in a sign that will prepare him to give his life in a daily sacrificial offering for the people.  

The priest daily celebrates the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — The Holy Sacrifice. The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross, because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ. The priest, alter Christus capitis, participates in this sacrificial offering by virtue of his office.  

Jesus Christ makes the ultimate sacrifice, remembered at the Mass, when He gave his life for each and all of us on the cross. Here He conquered death and opened the gates of heaven. At the altar, the priest consecrates the bread and wine, which is transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. On the cross, Christ shed his blood; in the Mass the graces of his sacrificial act are received by those participating.

The love of Jesus Christ has no limits: recall that among his friends was the betrayer and the denier, and those who fled his side. Yet, the sacrifice of our Lord is for them, for the Blessed Mother, for the Beloved Disciple, and for each of us. We are called to respond to Christ’s love by loving one another and by following the example of laying down one’s life for one’s friends.

Those who answer the call to serve the Lord and his people in the sacrificial life of priesthood recognize the beauty in self-giving for the other person, including the other whom he may not like or not even know. In these small ways, the priest, as well as each person of goodwill, participates in the love of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ places these words, lay down one’s life for one’s friends, between the command to love one another and calling the disciples friends, whom He has chosen. The priesthood is always a call from Jesus Christ, and it is a call to love, to sacrifice, and join Him in bearing everlasting fruit for his people.  

 

How often do we really have the opportunity to sacrifice for another?  Perhaps you can recall a time when parents have made a sacrifice for their children and when spouses have made a sacrifice for each other. These selfless acts are daily occurrences for many.

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