“Sacrifice” – L. from sacrificus “performing priestly functions or sacrifices,” from sacra “sacred rites.”
“Heroic” – L./Gk. Heros “man of superhuman strength or courage,” “demi-god”, “defender, protector”, “to save, preserve, protect, watch over.”
The Heroic Sacrifice of Jesus
- Infinite lowering of Himself in the Incarnation – The Eternal Word pre-exists with infinite existence and ability. The Creator sacrifices to become man, a heroic action to save all mankind from sin (John 3:16). He forgoes heaven to take on the pain/suffering of human life.
- Incarnation into poverty and chaos – He is born as a vulnerable little baby into poverty in the ‘backwaters’ of Galilee, the son of a carpenter, during the political domination of Jews by Romans and Herod, tyrannical puppet king.
- Jesus remains obedient to Mary and Joseph – The Genius of Jesus is evident at the age of 12 when He astounds the priests and scribes at the Temple with His Wisdom (Luke 2:41-52). Despite his superiority, He remains heroically obedient to his earthly parents for another 18 years.
- Submits to Baptism by John – Despite being God and without sin, Jesus allows Himself to be identified with sinners when He lowers Himself to be baptized by John (Matt 3:13-17), heroically sacrificing His rightful place of being without sin for the sake of mankind.
- Undergoes suffering in the Wilderness when called by the Holy Spirit – Voluntarily sacrifices to go into the Wilderness without provisions for 40 days. After surviving this ordeal, resists Satan’s temptations and forces Satan to “be gone” (Matt 4:1-11). By doing this, Jesus connects symbolically with Israel’s history of trial in the desert and overcomes temptation.
- Chooses to live among the poor – Choosing men who appear to be unlikely leaders (e.g. fisherman, tax collector, without education, etc.), Jesus lives among the poor and rejects attempts to make Him king (John 6:15).
- Submits Himself to ridicule by sinners – Throughout His ministry, Jesus is repeatedly challenged, harassed and hunted by Jewish leaders who seek to kill Him. He does not yield.
- Jesus heroically reaches out to the “unclean” – After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus touches and heals an unclean leper (Matt 8:1-4), heals the slave of a Centurion (enemy and Gentile) and exorcises a demoniac in Gentile lands (8:28-34). By doing so, Jesus willingly accepts being shunned and hated by many Jews.
- Jesus demonstrates heroic self-giving in His ministry – Jesus spends three years in a grueling ministry that is physically challenging, traveling long distances, working long hours with minimal comforts and constantly giving Himself to all who seek Him.
- Jesus confronts the dominant Jewish religious leaders with Scriptural Truth – Despite not having a “pedigree”, Jesus has a superior knowledge of Scripture (and God’s will). On multiple occasions, Jesus willingly teaches the ignorant and ungrateful Jewish leaders, despite consciously knowing they plan to kill Him.
- Heroically accepts the Cross – Despite the common knowledge of the brutality of crucifixion, and His own perfect knowledge of what He would endure, Jesus willingly submits to beating, scourging, taunting, humiliation and crucifixion. He sacrifices dignity, His righteous right to glory and His physical life. He endures the injustice and horror of being killed by His own children. He witnesses the betrayal and denial of those closest to Him. In His heroic Sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus takes on the sins of all men and redeems us (CCC 616-17).
- He courageously descends to Hell – After His brutal death, He is buried in the ground and then descends to Hell to free the just who had come before Him (CCC 633).
- He returns to love before the Ascension – Jesus foregoes heaven to returns to provide proof of His Resurrection and encouragement to His disciples (Lk. 24:13-53).
- He heroically continues to give Himself in the Eucharist– Jesus continues to return to give of Himself in the Real Presence of the Eucharist (CCC 1322-1419).