Sacrifice is the ‘letting go’ of ones egocentricity, the willingness to surrender to a new way of being, a capitulation of sorts that confronts our internal resistance and fear of change.
The process of accepting the need for change is an uncomfortable acquiescence that slowly leads us to that inevitable place of personal transformation, if we are up for the challenge.
Sacrifice is not about trying to appease the gods, a kind of subtle self flagellation that uses suffering to inflict pain on something in order to suppress divine retribution. Over the centuries we have assumed that in order for God to be happy with us there needs to be a sacrificial scapegoat or oblation for our guilt, a dying on our behalf so that we can be let off the hook, saved from an eternal verdict of condemnation.
‘Jesus came to end sacrificial religion itself’ - Rene Girard
Does this not beg the question as to why we have seen Jesus' death in this light? Maybe we could understand the way of the cross as an end to an old system that didn’t really work or accomplish anything, a new way of understanding life through the lens of suffering leading to a mystical union of sorts. The way of the cross (sacrifice) inevitably leads us to a resurrection, a newness of life that evokes the hope of immortality, a life after life, life in all its fulness.
'Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.' - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sacrifice and suffering go hand in hand, they are the double edged sword of human transformation that govern our evolution and societal metamorphosis. The true purpose of this unique combination is to save us from ourselves, to rescue us from a self-destructive trajectory of refusal to let go or embrace what life demands of us, an open handed approach to a trust in the providence of the Divine. As the ancient near east prophet said, “To obey is better than sacrifice,” or, to heed the better way.
Sacrifice and suffering guide me to salvific grace, the essence of my true ‘becoming’ and the awakening of the real me as an obedient offering to God.