Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jesus: Love, Death, and All That

I see questions like these online during Lent, and before Christmas —

"What kind of God sends someone else to die?" "Was it really necessary to kill someone to save sinners?"

Maybe the questions are sincere, maybe they're posted in hopes that a brittle Christian will go ballistic. I don't know. I suspect that some questions are posted in hopes of reaffirming the notion that religious folks are crazy. And that's another topic. (December 18, 2011)

Understanding God, and What Saint Augustine Said

(From Antonio Ciseri, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.)

A remarkable number of folks celebrate a horrible execution every year, in March or April. Serious as it is, Good Friday is good because of what we celebrate Easter Sunday. I'll get back to that.

Jesus knew what would happen that day in Jerusalem: and said, "not my will but yours be done," anyway.

I can't explain, in full detail, why God sent my Lord to die in my place.

God's God, I'm not, and I'm okay with that.

When it comes to full understanding of God, I think Saint Augustine was right:
"If it is God (you claim to know), you do not understand; if you understand, it is not God."
(Saint Augustine, Sermon 52, 16; via Chapter 10, "Augustine's World," Donald X. Burt, O.S.A.; Villanova University)
That said, we can understand a little about God, and why Jesus volunteered.

Decisions, Consequences, and a Loving Solution

God created a good world, one in which we can decide to love, serve, and obey God: or not. The first of us decided to disobey, and we've been living with the consequences ever since. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 299, 385-412, 1730-1742)

Happily, God loves us enough to send Jesus, the Son of God, the Word, to die in our place. Maybe that seems harsh, but sin is real, so is justice: and so, again happily, is mercy and love. (John 3:16; Catechism, 595-618, 1846-1869)

By the way, I used the present tense, "God loves us," but the Gospel of John uses another tense: "so loved the world." It's hard to know which to use, since God is infinite and sees all times as "now:" and those are yet more topics. (Catechism, 300, 600)

Jesus Volunteered for This Mission

Jesus did not deserve to die. He freely accepted punishment and death in my place: sort of like someone paying a fine for me. It's not just for me: the Son of God tasted death for everyone. (Hebrews 2:9)

John 12:24 and 18:37 make it pretty clear that Jesus willingly accepting a horrifically painful death. That may be why my Lord said:
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done."
(Luke 22:42)

Death and Standing Orders

One man's death may seem like a small sacrifice, compared to the accumulated sin of all humanity. Jesus was, and is, unique.

Jesus is human: but the Son of God is not just human. (John 1:1-5, 13:9, 14:9-10; Catechism, 470)

I don't understand exactly how an infinite and eternal God can be present in one place and time, any more than I understand how salvation works. Like I said before, God's God, I'm not.

I do understand that Jesus died in my place, in payment for my sins. That alone would be enough to get my attention.

Jesus showed that death isn't what it used to be, when my Lord stopped being dead; convinced the surviving apostles that they weren't seeing a ghost; and left, after giving them a daunting task. (Matthew 28:19-20)

We've been carrying out those standing orders, with varying degrees of success, ever since: and that's yet again another topic. (August 25, 2011)

Related posts:

A quick recap:
"1 2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

"He was in the beginning with God.

"3 All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be

"through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;

"4 the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
(John 1:1-5)

"For God so loved the world that he gave 7 his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."
(John 3:16)

"Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,

"because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. "
(John 6:37-38)

"After withdrawing about a stone's throw from them and kneeling, he prayed,

"saying, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.' "
(Luke 22:41-42)

"Jesus said to Peter, 'Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup 7 that the Father gave me?' "
(John 18:11)

"10 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." "
(Matthew 28:17-20)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.