Christ died on the cross not so that we don’t have to, but to give us an example to follow.
Life is like a theatrical play. There are heroes, villains, extras, choruses, main themes, and subplots. What role are you playing? Everyone thinks he is playing the hero in his own mind. Little boys always cast themselves as the hero. But the difference between boys and men is that men try to be objective with themselves and subjective with everyone else. Another way to put it, does the world revolve around you or is someone else at the center of your universe? To be objective with yourself means to step outside of yourself and to objectively measure your thoughts, words, and actions to find out if you are a hero or a villain.
Here’s the problem that we all run into. Every man has been created to be a hero, just as Christ was a hero. If we are going to objectively measure ourselves what or who is the measuring stick? Through His passion, death, and resurrection Jesus has saved the whole world! Jesus himself is the measure of what it means to be a hero, to be a man. Our role as men invites us to die for the salvation of the world as well. And looking at myself I can tell that I am usually falling short of the goal.
In everyday life it can be difficult to define the contours of the main plot and our role in the story. Trying to be a hero like Jesus can be really hard if we look to this world for the inspiration of how to act our part in the story. It is only by spending time with the master that we can learn the subtleties of what it means to be a hero in our everyday lives. But some would protest that Jesus did miracles, predicted the future, and exorcised demons, and we can’t do those things! Right. Which brings me back to my opening line: Jesus died to give us an example to follow. Out of His entire life Jesus only asked us to imitate Him in one thing, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.”
During the sacred Triduum we are invited to enter into a re-presentation of Jesus’ heroic scene. As disciples, or students, or side kicks, the sacred Triduum gives us the very real opportunity to follow closely and imitate precisely our master’s every word and deed until we get the pattern of His inner thoughts and motives. Then when we have that inner pattern of Jesus’ heart and mind we can begin to move away from his side and begin to venture out on our own. The Triduum is not just a lot of extra prayers in honor of Jesus. In Holy Week there is a deeper reality waiting to teach us the truth about how to be real men.
The liturgy of Holy Week is more than just a thoughtful ceremony reminding us of what Jesus did long ago in a place far away. It is an open door for real men to step into the actual events of a real man who laid down his life so that others might live. The theological reality goes back to the Jewish Passover. When the Jews celebrate the Passover they don’t just think that they are remembering great things God did long ago in a place far away. No, they remember in a way that allows them to re-present the actual events of the Exodus and the first Passover. We follow that same theological tradition by remembering and re-presenting the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus every year in order that we may actually experience it again in our own place and time.
Jesus has called each and every man to be a hero, just as He is a hero. He has cast us in a role for a particular place and particular time. He expects you to play your part, but He is a good director and he will give you direction if you begin to think at a deeper level. Holy Week is a tremendous gift to every man from the Church. The sacred Triduum can unlock the secrets to your heroic calling if you enter into it more deeply and follow our Lord through his heroic hour.