First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Mark 14:1–15:47
The amazing thing about the Passion of Our Lord is that, not only did a man offer himself up for the sins of the world, but that a Father offered His Son in sacrifice. Something needs to be said here, though, about the sacrifice of your own child.
God has revealed his attributes, as well as his prophecies, not only to the Jewish people, but to all people throughout the world (cf. Romans 1:19-20). A careful examination of the myths and legends of all the world’s cultures and religions shows the similarities they have to one another, as well as the signs and prophecies that point to Christ (e.g., the phoenix that rises from it’s own ashes; the Egytptian god, Osiris, that is killed yet comes back to life). A cursory study of the historical books of the Old Testament (Judges, Samuel I & II, Kings I & II, and Chronicles I & II) also bears this out.
The problem with this kind of comparison is that it ignores the moral aspects of each culture and religion, which is where they are both most similar and most deviant (cf. Romans 1:21-32), and "comparative religious studies" seeks to make every religion as valid as any other, claiming that they all contain the truth. However, although some truth may be contained in each religion, the interpretation and use of those truths varies greatly, for Satan knows that the way to make the best lie is to mix just the right amount of truth in with it, to make it believable. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cult of Baal or Moloch.
The worship of Baal or Moloch was such an abomination to the God of Israel, that not only were the Israelites forbidden to worship (because of the 1st commandment), but they were also banned from associating with any who practiced that cult, and they were told to exterminate them, so as to blot out the false worship from the face of the planet. Unfortunately, the Israelites were not faithful to their God and His command. But what made this cult so offensive as to be utterly repulsive, deserving of complete annihilation?
The answer lies in the mix of truth and lies. The cult of Baal or Moloch contained a practice of human sacrifice, specifically human sacrifice. At first glance, this appears to be a foreshadow of what God the Father would do with His Son, as he even seemed to command of Abraham. The difference lies, not in that truth, but in the twist of that truth – the motive of the sacrifice. For the followers of Baal and Moloch, the sacrifice of their children was for prosperity, power, prestige – things of this world. Where our Lord is concerned, Jesus was sacrificed, not for selfish, worldly reasons, but for the redemption of souls. God the Father, Creator and owner of all things, did not sacrifice His Son for His own gain – He did it for our gain, so that we would not have to suffer the loss of ourselves and our children, as the curses of the old covenant were carried down to future generations. This is why He sent an angel to stop Abraham from killing Isaac – God wants our happiness and that primarily comes to us as we enjoy our children. Christ came (and died) so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10b, cf. Romans 8:32).
Because of Israel’s failure to stop the practice of child sacrifice, we still have forms of it to this day, in abortion and birth control. Artificial birth control (e.g., the pill, condoms, etc.) all have the purpose of directly preventing life, in exchange for pleasure. Abortion is even more severe – it is the direct killing of a child in the womb, so that we continue school unimpeded, keep our finances at a "manageable" level (i.e., we can spend our money on ourselves and not on some rugrat), or to keep our bodies looking good while we continue in our careers. Now with embryonic stem cell research, we are scientifically killing children made (cloned) for the express purpose of destruction, so that we may have longer lives. All these child sacrifices so that we may obtain more money, attain prestige and power, and do what we want, rather than be forced to think about another before ourselves. But is this really prosperity? Or was Mother Teresa right when she said, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
So, this Holy Week, we must recall the mighty sacrifice God the Father made, not just for our sake, but also so that we should never have to do it ever again. This is why we should offer thanksgiving ("eucharist") to God the Father in the memorial of His Son’s sacrifice for us. It is through imitation of God, not in sacrificing our children, but sacrificing for our children, that we will live life abundantly and make this world better as we progress toward the next world.