Substitutionary Sniffles

Before Jesus died for my sins,
Did he catch cold for them, too?
Did he sniffle for my pettiness?
Did he cough for my pride?
Did he sneeze for my anger?
When Jesus stubbed his toe,
Who was forgiven, and for what?
When he scraped his knee,
Whose load of guilt was lifted?
When he cut his finger,
What little evils were washed away
By that half-teaspoon of his blood?
What layers of resentment
Were peeled away, and from whom,
When Jesus had a sunburn?
Did Jesus sacrificially offer his headaches
To substitute for the consequences
For our willful ignorance
Of the sufferings of others?
If he did, I want to be like him,
And put my miseries to work
For the incremental salvation
Of humanity.
My runny nose
Erases your greedy deed.
My sore back
Forgives your white lie.

My age spots cover
The stupid stuff you do in your youth.
If all of us dedicated our wounds and aches
For the cause of forgiveness,
If we let our weaknesses
Open doors of compassion for each other,
Maybe nobody would have to die for our sins –
Not even Jesus.

Follow me on twitter: @jtburklo

Associate Dean of Religious Life, University of Southern California

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