by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
God could have forgiven sin by simply willing it. He did not have to order His Son to become incarnate and die on the Cross to redeem us.
Yet, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that all who believe in Him, may not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16, Vulgate).
God’s incarnation was a scandal to the Jews, who refused to admit that God could take flesh and remain God. So they had Him betrayed by a false apostle and buffeted Him, falsely condemned Him and put Him to death.
But since He was God of Life, He rose from the dead, as the Saving God and as the Redeeming Man.
The passage of Jesus Christ from the glory of Palm Sunday through the horrors of the Cross to the Glory of Easter Sunday is the Mystery of Faith.
Here I use “mystery” and ”faith” differently that what you might suppose. I use the former as in a crime novel, and the latter as the theological virtue.
The path through the Cross and to the Resurrection was necessary for Christ’s Disciples. Because having become true Man, they could hear His teaching and accept it as either coming from a man or from the Son of God. Hence in them, both human faith in the man who stood before them and supernatural faith in the God who stood before them were joined together in a single act.
Human faith however cannot save. Only supernatural faith can save.
Of this supernatural faith, The Apostle Paul says, Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
Thus, to teach us to have supernatural faith it was necessary that Christ do something the acceptance of which would be impossible for human faith. And since human faith is a natural virtue and nature is inclined first of all to preserve its own life, the Cross was the necessary path through which Jesus Christ, as our Redeemer and our Teacher, had to walk to guide us by His example to eternal life.
This is why the Cross is inexplicable to the natural or carnal man. This is why our corrupt human nature draws back at the suggestion of penance, mortification, sacrifice and offering our lives up at risk for the sake of the Gospel. And this is why so few desire the grace of martyrdom, or even the lesser graces of being a victim soul or embracing a religious vocation of penance and sacrifice.
But only in the embrace of total self sacrifice, motivated out of Faith in Jesus, can we follow the call of truly supernatural faith, that which alone can lead us on the path from death to life, from this world to the Resurrection.
This is why, there is no Faith, no supernatural faith, without the Cross. And this is why we must embrace the Cross if we have faith, because that is what faith is about. And this is how we can renew the Church, each of us individually, while doing God’s will on earth.
Faith does not point the way to suicide, faith points the way of self sacrifice for God and neighbor, in the works of mercy, corporal or spiritual, and in the mortification of our corrupt nature in penance and conversion. We must begin with conversion of ourselves and the keeping of God’s commandments, but we must grow into the life of being merciful to others.
This is also why there is not fruit in the apostolate without the apostle accepting suffering. And this is why physical suffering is more necessary than any other kind of suffering. Physical suffering is the only kind that can kill you. Physical suffering, thus, is the only true sacrifice and risk. Though we should be cheerful when any suffering comes upon us on account of our service to God. When we embrace that with faith, we can merit great things for others.
And this is why Our Lord said, Greater love no man hath than he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
Our Lord did not require that we do the greatest sacrifices. But He invites us to follow Him on that path. The salvation of countless souls depends upon that.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photo by Br. Bugnolo of a grate to a side Chancel at Saint John Lateran.
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