Willing to Make Sacrifices for Others: Real Life
Real life is full of opportunities for sacrifice. Because of the sinful nature of human beings, we operate on with a “me first” mentality. When we make a sacrifice for a loved one, or anyone really, we are putting that person before ourselves, before any selfish or prideful desires. These sacrifices can be small – think about letting someone merge before you next time you are in traffic (with a smile on your face). Or, they can be more significant – would you consider giving a full tithe of your income to support your church (biblically, a tithe is 10% of your earnings – before taxes now, we are talking first fruits here)?
Sacrifices can also be less tangible, such as the sacrifice of time. You could choose to stay home, warm and comfortable and watch a football game. Or, you can volunteer to ring a bell by a red bucket for a Sunday afternoon in the cold with the Salvation Army, collecting donations for the poor of your community.
I know that traditionally Lent is the season for sacrifices, but as we approach the last days of Advent, consider what you might sacrifice or give up to better prepare your heart for the coming of Christ. After all, at Christmas Jesus isn’t just born in the stable. If we let Him, He would be born in our hearts.
What is one sacrifice you could make that will help you better prepare for the coming of Christ in just a few days?
Willing to Make Sacrifices for Others: In Church Tradition
In late November, our family participated in a new ritual that our parish began at the end of October. Each week, a family is bringing home a special crucifix and promises to pray together each day, in the presence of this crucifix, for vocations, especially vocations to military chaplaincy. It is sitting on my kitchen table from where we prayed with it last night at dinner, watching over me as I write this post.
If I felt I needed to do research or seek inspiration for this post, I need not look farther than across the table. There, waiting for me and you with open arms, is Jesus, forsaken and crucified. Here is God, the creator and savior of the universe, who is greater than anything we can conceive of, subject to human cruelty, torture, pain and anguish. For what? For what purpose could God, who operates outside of time and space, enter into the finite world as a baby, born of simple origins, to live a simple life and to die an unwarranted painful death?
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. – John 3:16-17
This is really what we are waiting for, what we are preparing for. Yes, we are waiting for Jesus to come as a babe. But we would be missing the point if we did not connect cradle with cross. One of my favorite Advent songs is called “Wood of the Cradle.” This is the last line of the refrain:
Kneel at the manger and rise from the grave.
Jesus gives us the ultimate example of self-sacrificing love. What is one way you can unite yourself with Jesus Crucified today?
Willing to Make Sacrifices for Others: Mary in Scripture
The thing about choices is that by choosing to walk down one path I have to necessarily reject or sacrifice whatever lay down the opposing path. When Mary was visited by Gabriel, she had two choices. By choosing her fiat, her yes to God, Mary was at that same moment saying “no” to the hopes and dreams she had envisioned for her life.
Mary was a young girl, recently betrothed to Joseph. Just as any couple just starting out, they must have had plans for the future. Maybe growing Joseph’s business, assisting their parents and other relatives, participating in upcoming pilgrimages to Jerusalem, etc. Mary’s participation in God’s creative plan meant sacrificing other dreams she (and Joseph to an extent) might have had. Her trust and obedience to God allowed her to let go of the life she dreamt she would lead. Her love for God, and by extension her love for Jesus, gave her the strength she needed for such a sacrifice. The life that God had in store was beyond her wildest imaginings.
Can you think of a time you sacrificed something out of love for another person? Did it change you in any way?