Jesus the Hero (Easter 2017)
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Last Summer, July 7th to be exact, a tragedy unfolded that exposed both the best and worst of human nature. It was a Thursday night in Dallas, about 9pm and protestors were finishing up a demonstration against recent police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. Without warning, an enraged gunman opened fire on police officers. Because of the ensuing confusion and his previous training in the military, this shooter killed five police officers and wounded nine others, along with 2 civilians before he was stopped. Having several family members in law enforcement, I followed this particular story closely. A theme came up time and time again in witness accounts of that evening (and remember, many of the people telling the story were there originally to protest the actions of police in other situations). Over and over again witnesses observed how the police officers ran into danger as everyone else was running away. Not knowing they were the target, they focused first on getting all of the protestors to safety rather than saving their own skin. Many of the demonstrators praised the police for their selfless service, for putting their own lives on the line, moving to neutralize the suspect when every instinct was telling them to run away or hide.
That is the true definition of courage, the real meaning of hero: to put one’s own safety, comfort, and very life on the line to help or save another person. We hear stories of true heroes fairly often, not only in law enforcement, but in so many first responders, soldiers, medical professionals, organ donors, and good-hearted strangers who see someone in trouble and jump in to help.
The only appropriate response to a hero is gratitude. Those who are saved or protected have been given a new lease on life. Through the sacrifice and courage of another, they are alive and more than likely, will never take another day for granted. Many times, the price of being a hero is significant; for some it costs the ultimate price, life itself. For that reason, there is something within our human nature that venerates a hero and never wants to forget their sacrifice.
Today, on this happy day we call Easter, Christians around the world celebrate the ultimate hero, Jesus Christ, risen from the dead! Before the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we were in mortal danger from sin and death. Nothing we could ever do would release us from its grasp. Until Christ, not a single person could enter heaven. The human race was a prisoner to its sins and weaknesses. Because of that first offense of Adam and Eve, each and every one of us was born into darkness with the tendency to resist God and live for ourselves. God did not have to save us. We did nothing to deserve his salvation. But God has a heart of Love and couldn’t bear to watch his children suffer. From the moment Adam and Eve sinned, throughout the centuries, he prepared the world to receive his Son, who would be willing to do anything to save us.
When Jesus was born into the world, he wanted to experience everything we do, except for sin. He grew up in a family, he learned a trade, how to pray, and so many other things that each of went through as a developing human. He did not choose an easy life for himself because he never wanted anyone to doubt his love for each and every one of us. Ultimately, Jesus would pay for his kindness in the worst way possible. He would be tortured, humiliated, betrayed by one of his closest friends, and executed on a cross. Let’s not forget, Jesus did not have to do this! He could have tapped out at any time or called on armies of angels to destroy those who were trying to destroy him. Instead of pulling back or running away, he goes headlong into the worst that humanity has to offer. By laying down his life, he ends up saving ours.
Easter Sunday is a reminder to say thank you to the hero who saved our souls. It is a reminder that God loved each of us so much he died for our sins and made it possible for us to be with him in heaven. Today, as we gather with friends and family to celebrate and enjoy time together, let’s make sure we don’t neglect to thank the very person who gave everything so we would no longer have to be prisoners to sin and death. Let us not take that sacrifice for granted! Every Sunday is a little Easter and every time we come to Mass, we say “thank you” to God for running into danger on our behalf and saving us.
May the joy and peace of Easter fill our hearts and homes. May we never take this gift of salvation for granted or fail to thank our heavenly hero, Jesus Christ, risen and victorious forever!
Fr. Kevin's Schroeder's homilies are fed to this site from his personal blog, Black-Robed Blogger.
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