“And when he has made an end of atoning for The Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat; and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land; and he shall let the goat go in the wilderness.”
(Leviticus 16:20-22 RSV)
Every society, every culture has a tradition of a scapegoat, someone to blame and punish for the sin of that particular society. It follows then that in the beginning of the spiritual life we are when confronted with our own sinfulness and those around us, we are conditioned to act like the scapegoat. When I take on the identity of a scapegoat, even if I live a devout, disciplined, ascetic lifestyle with a daily round of mass, rosaries, Eucharistic Adoration and frequent confession, I still fall into a trap. It is a trap that all of us fall into as we try to become devoted disciples of Jesus. It is a piety that in the end focuses on ourselves, our actions, our devotions and effort. I am at the front and centre, not God.
To make a shift from an egocentric lifestyle to a God centered lifestyle is tricky business. Thank heavens the Catholic Church has always understood the need for spiritual directors but the fundamental difference between self-centered piety and true, vibrant life in Christ is when we give up trying to save ourselves and surrender to Jesus. When we consciously choose Christ, the switch is immediate from misery to joy, even if we seem to suffer just as much in our external lives.
and profess your Resurrection until you come again. B: When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup,we proclaim your death, O Lord,
until you come again.
C: Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
When we act like a victim sacrifice, suffering for our own failings or like a scapegoat who suffers as the result of others sins, we might like to think of ourselves as saintly martyrs but our suffering is anything but holy. There is no act filled with more pride. We are in fact stealing Christ’s job. Christ came to suffer and die on the cross for our sins. He is the sacrificial lamb who takes away all sin. He is like the scapegoat of the Old Testament, burdened by the sins of the people who by his death and resurrection, justifies everyone by the power of His blood in the eyes of God the Father.
It takes humility to realize that our miserable, self-inflicted suffering does not save anyone, least of all
ourselves. Accepting Jesus as our Saviour really goes against our grain as human beings because we want to earn our salvation, purify ourselves by suffering out of a misplaced sense of guilt. Ironically it usually takes suffering to break down our ego and pride. Once exhausted by trying to save ourselves, we often must hit bottom before we are desperate enough to change, to let go of our pride and control and surrender in humility to Christ our Saviour. Only the drowning man even realizes that he needs saved, only a sick man grasps the truth that he needs to be healed.
Isaiah 53:5 (NASB)
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
Yes there is a place for redemptive suffering but what most of us experience is far from redemptive because our suffering is not in union with Christ’s. Redemptive suffering is not long-faced misery but in fact joyful because it is life-giving and life affirming as we live in, with and through Christ our Saviour. It might involve physical pain but it is lived in the Light, in peace and in joy. When we are no longer the centre of attention but Jesus is the centre; all heavy, psychological despair and mental anguish dissipates like insubstantial mist under the burning sunlight.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NASB)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
8 thoughts on “Are you Stealing Christ’s Job?”
I’m so glad He is our Savior, and we cannot save ourselves. Thank you for bringing out clearly the concept of surrender.
You’ll like this bit of Numbers: When you present the Levites before the LORD, the people of Israel shall lay their hands upon the Levites, 11 and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that it may be theirs to do the service of the LORD. 12 Then the Levites shall lay their hands upon the heads of the bulls; and you shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the LORD, to make atonement for the Levites.
perfect- I love it this Biblical quote; I am going to use it as a springboard for another article
Thanks for sharing! By the time I read the last line of this post – I felt a heavy yoke lifting and a much lighter one being placed upon my heart.
the best response- the reason I wrote this article
Can you tell me who owns the rights to the photo of the modern day woman touching the hem of the garment in the above article. Can anyone use this photo?