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).
If Jesus had not lived His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, even with the immediacy of His own torture and murder facing Him, it could and would always be said by Christians and others looking for a way out of having to follow Him in some treacherous situation—or perhaps less than treacherous situation— of their own that
“Jesus taught and live His Way of Nonviolent Love of all only in fair weather but He never had to live it when a life destroying cyclone was bearing down on Him. And, so in my present life threatening situation, where suffering and death are at my doorstep, there is no imitation of Jesus possible to follow, since He in His historical life never encountered an in extremis lethal situation with His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies. Such a way of life is powerless to deal with that moment of truth when the only options available are to kill or be killed.”
But of course, Jesus historically did just that! He confronted two of the most horrifying forms of torture and murder, and did it unto death, in total fidelity to the Way that He knew was the only Way of God, the Way of the Father who lets His sun shine and causes His rain to fall on both the righteous and the wicked (Mt 5:43-48; Lk 6:27-36), the Way of Nonviolent Love towards all, friends and enemies.
Again, suffering and death are not what saves. Love as revealed by the entire historical life of Jesus, by His words and by deeds, in fair weather and in foul, saves. Suffering and/or death may be what a person has to endure and moment to moment to be obedient to the Will of the Father as revealed by Jesus, but neither is the saving power of God made visible in Jesus.
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy
(To be continues)