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Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Catholic View from Catholic Clergy: The Crucifixion of Jesus

Written by: Contributor Deacon Ron

Sin entered the world and came into our lives as a result of the original sin committed by Adam and Eve. Jesus saves us by counteracting or balancing out what, Adam and Eve did.

When Adam and Eve sinned, their motivation was pride. They wanted to be more than they were. In their pride, they thought they deserved to be more. They wanted to be like God. Because of the lie told to them by Satan, they thought they had to eat the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil so that they could be just like God. However, being creatures rather than the creator they could never be just like God, but only resemble him.

Knowing the problems that the Knowledge of good and evil would cause the human race, God forbade them to eat the fruit of that tree. To eat the forbidden fruit, they had to put God’s will aside and replace it with their own will, believing it would make them like God. Having replaced God’s will with their own, they committed the Original Sin.

To undo this, Jesus had to do just the opposite. He had to put his human will aside and accept God’s will. This is what he did during the in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he was arrested. Then to undo the pride of Adam and Eve, Christ had to suffer humiliation. Jesus allowed himself to be arrested, though innocent of any wrong doing. The Roman soldiers stripped him and put a cloak on him, pretending it was the royal robe of a king. Then they taunted and teased him, pretending he was their king, attempting to humiliate him.

The sinful act of Adam and Eve required the use of their hands. They had to pick the forbidden fruit and eat it. The Roman soldiers put a reed in the hand of Jesus. The Romans pretended it was a royal scepter, again mocking him as king. It was no good to Jesus, since it is just a useless weed. The fruit eaten by Adam and Eve also did them no good, instead it brought them sin and damnation.

Then the Romans chained our Lord to a pillar and whipped him without mercy, punishing his body. The sin of Adam and Eve required the use of their bodies. The punishment of their bodies was that they were banished from the Garden of Eden and had from then on had to work for their food.

However, a human being not just a body, for we have mind and spirit, that is to say, a soul. To punish only the body is to punish only half a person. The punishment of the mind and spirit, the soul of Adam and Eve, was that they no longer had such an intimate connection with God. They were now separated from him by their sin. Jesus also experienced a punishment of mind and spirit. For him, it was the Way of the Cross.

This was accomplished as he carried his cross to the place of crucifixion. On the way, he met his mother. Imagine her pain and suffering knowing that her only son was to be executed by the cruelest punishment the Romans could devise. Now imagine Jesus knowing his mothers pain, knowing he was the reason for her pain, and knowing how the sight of him, covered in blood from the whipping, must have made her feel. Jesus knew these things and it could only have been extreme anguish for him. This was his punishment of his mind and spirit.

At the place of the crucifixion, Jesus was nailed to the cross. St Paul called it a tree. It is in fact the Tree of Life. This is because it is through the cross that we have eternal life. By his death on the cross and his resurrection, we have redemption for our sins and therefore eternal life in heaven.

There was a tree of life in the Garden of Eden also. God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden so that they could not eat the fruit of that Tree of Life. This was necessary because salvation could come only through Jesus Christ and only at the time deemed proper by the Lord.

Through the Mass we are present at the crucifixion and experience its salvation. At Mass, the body of Christ is broken and his blood is separate from his body, just as his body was damaged on the cross and his blood then flowed out of him. Thus, every time we participate in Mass, we are present at the Crucifixion of Christ.

Our first motivation for not sinning is that we ourselves do not want to spend eternity in hell. That is a good and valid motivation. However, if we love someone we do not want him or her to suffer. When we truly love someone, we may even wish to take the suffering upon ourselves so that they do not have to suffer. Knowing that it is because of our sins that Christ had to suffer, in our love for him, we want to reduce his suffering. Therefore, our love for Jesus is another motivation to not sin. Ultimately the responsibility for his suffering is ours. If we truly accept that responsibility, then we are motivated to resist temptation and to not sin.

The willingness of Christ to suffer for us is a loud and clear statement of his love for us and the ultimate example of how we are to love one another. Jesus does not hate us because we make him suffer. He wants no revenge and he does not harbor any anger towards us for causing his suffering. He is the perfect example of how forgiving we must be toward one another.

On every Good Friday, let us pause a moment and reflect on how the crucifixion of Jesus atoned for our sins by undoing what Adam and Eve did. But let us also reflect on the love and forgiveness that our savior is showing us, and then let us show it to one another.

-Contributor Deacon Ron-

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