FAST FOOD (2014): Third Helping
Again, “We adore God Who is love, who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him” (Pope Francis, 6/21/14).
But, what does it mean to say that Jesus “offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins,” or that “Jesus saves us by His blood shed for us on the Cross?”
Does it mean that the Father sent His Son to be tortured and to be murdered as the only way the Father’s anger could be turned off? Does it mean that an offense against God is infinite and therefore only an infinite being, the Father’s Son, by being torture and murdered, could make satisfaction for an infinite offense or that only the torture and murder of His Son could restore the glory and honor of God? Does it mean that the torture and murder of His Son is the price that the Father had to pay to Satan to whom humanity was enslaved in order to redeem humanity from Satan? Does it mean that justice requires that if sin is committed the sinner must be punished, and must receive a punishment in proportion to the crime committed, e.g, an eye for an eye. An offense against God is an infinite offense for which justice mandates infinite punishment. Therefore only an Infinite Being, the Son, could be subjected to a punishment of infinite proportions, punishment commensurate with the offense. Hence, the Father sends His Son to be tortured and murdered, thereby having His Son vicariously satisfy the demands of justice for the Infinite One being offended.
One of the above, or some combination of some of the above interpretations of “offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins,” is the dominant understanding in the minds of most Christians. It is important to note in all these interpretations of “Jesus saves us by the blood of the Cross,” that violence, specifically the torture and the murder of Jesus, and the raw pain that Jesus suffers as the result of this, is what brings about or opens the way to the salvation of sinners, to humanities reconciliation with God.
But, is it really murderous and agonizing violence against His Son, Jesus, that the God made visible by Jesus needs to be reconciled with human beings and that human beings—in imitation of God—need to be reconciled with each other?
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
(To be continued)