Our Lord Loves, Dies and Teaches – A letter from Father Kentenich

Our Lord Loves, Dies and Teaches – A letter from Father Kentenich

Our Lord Loves, Dies and Teaches

Father Joseph Kentenich

Homily, March 22, 1964

Our Lord loves. His suffering is the expression of love without measure. St. Paul pointed it out to us: Dilexit me et tradidit semetipsum pro me. Which means: His Passion is a unique love story. He took all this upon himself because he loves me. He loves.

All we need to do is recall several statements Our Lord made: “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” Isn’t this an expression of love? How they mistreated them. The people for whom he consumed himself did this to him. And what did he do? What sentiments did he have in his heart? Mercy. Compassionate love.

I, too, am the object of his compassionate love. “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.”

From the cross he then gives all humanity his Blessed Mother: “Ecce mater tua!” He gives us his Mother, who shares his suffering with him. She is, after all, his permanent helpmate, his permanent associate—at all the stations of the cross, especially beneath the cross and while our Lord hangs on the cross. All through his Passion, Our Lord thus stands before us as the great hero of infinitely merciful love.

Our Lord dies. A greater love no one has than the person who gives his life for his friends. He even did so for his enemies, for us.

Our Lord preaches, he teaches—not even so much by his words, but much more by his moving example. What does he teach us? He teaches us the gospel of the horrible tragedy of sin and the gospel of infinite mercy of Eternal Love.

We, the people of today, have lost the feeling for sin. We no longer know its gravity and face. Our Lord shows us what sin is on God’s scale. His suffering is but the consequence of sin. When I think about the entire weight of the suffering Our Lord bore, the cup he drained, then I cannot but come to the conviction that sin must be a tremendous evil which we people of today have hardly any idea of.

He preaches. But he preaches still another gospel to me. He also preaches the gospel of my own being drawn into the Passion of our Lord. “Whoever wished to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps.”

My cross—what cross is it? It is a splinter of the cross beams of our Lord. I should always join my cross most closely to the cross of Christ. I carry his cross, and he carries my cross. In closest two-in-oneness we walk the way of the cross together, because even today he walks his way of suffering with all its stations in me and through me ever again, ever anew—just as he does in the Church and through the Church.

My cross. What is it like? We briefly recall that there is a manifold cross. From one point of view we can speak of the cross of sin, the cross of perseverance, and the cross of love.

The cross of sin. We may not forget that quite frequently the cross we bear is the consequence of the sins we have committed. When we think of our passions, when we allowed our lower desires free rein, we will often pay the penalty for sin by having to bear a terrible cross. But we want to carry it gladly because it also becomes easier when we realize that our Lord atoned for this cross too.

Then there is also a cross of perseverance—the cross of us having to prove ourselves. Our Lord died not only to take away our sins and to atone for them, he also wanted to show us the way, the way to perfection, the way to holiness. He wanted to draw our hearts entirely unto himself. What must we do to become like unto our Lord? This is obvious: The virtues Our Lord exemplified for us throughout his Passion and Death are also the virtues we should acquire, the virtues we need.

Our Lord wants to practice his patience once more in us. In us, he wants to re-live his bravery, his heroic courage. And finally, he wants to lead us upward to the highest, to the very highest peak of a genuine love for God. In the end, love can prove itself only by hanging on the cross, by hanging on the cross perfected, in fact, with great longing, gratitude and love for the cross.

May our Lady help us then to become deeply absorbed in the Passion of our Lord during Holy Week. May she give us the readiness, in the future more so than in the past, to view our suffering, our cross as splinter of our Lord’s cross.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *