Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Jesus + crucifixion = New Passover

By: Ed

I have to admit that I didn't, and still don't completely, understand the whole meaning of Christs need to be murdered so cruelly. This however, is due in no small part to, as well as Michael, not being a theologian. I can provide some reasons though and I hope they will be satisfactory for now.

First, try this ESSAY on Christ's redemptive death. It is from the Franciscans I believe and can be found along with many other useful theological works on Catholic Encyclopedia.

As Michael pointed out, Jesus was an example; a perfect one. His perfection lies with His divine nature and the abundance of grace in his soul. We must be careful though not to lesson His suffering or rejection of sin because of His divine nature. It is true that He was sinless, but so was Adam when he turned away. It was also true that Satan was once possibly the closest being to God when He rejected truth for lies. Sin, evil, is in any form and for anyone tempting. We see the good in it because God made it that way. The sin of gluttony for example may be brought on by our seeing the good in the taste of something. Gluttony is a sin because it is in excess. Remember, sin in its most basic nature is putting creation before the creator. Living in moderation is a large part of being able to deny the world when commanded for God.

Now granted, humans, due to our nature, have imperfections. We get cold and hungary. We don't always understand the world around us. Christ embraced this imperfection, but He was perfect in spirit and love, which is the whole point. Being both human and divine, Christ both knew everything, but still had everything to learn. This is important in understanding Jesus.

Now, Christs whole life was an example. Everything He did was for the Father and out of love for Him who is and us. Scripture and tradition though clearly state that His sacrifice was what redeemed us, so His life without the final death would not have completed our salvation.

One quick thing before I go on, I noticed that Michael said Christ's ressurection was more important than His death. My opinion on that has always been that they were both just as important; and not just because one couldn't be done without the other. I've always thought that, with the power of God, coming back to life would be comparatively easy compared to humbling yourself before the creatures you made to suffer and die for them. That is just my own view and indeed both death and resurrection are linked and necessary to each other.

It is common in the Catholic Church to hear "we accept Christ's crucifixion in our own lives so that He may accept our resurrection with Him in the world to come". An important part of Christ's becoming a man is that we are united to Him. The past law, however imperfect, provided for the remission of sins, but did not unite God and man. (I will get more into this in a second)

One man and one woman caused our initial fall. They were sinless and chose to leave the grace of God. Is not it fitting that one man and one woman, both made sinless by the intercession of God, be the ones to start our redemption. Now don't get me wrong, Mary is sinless, but she is not our redeemer, Christ is. His divine nature is the extra ingredient no creature could provide in a sacrifice, but Mary, by her acceptance of the task of being mother to our Lord fulfilled the role Eve cast aside. (Just a bit of typology that I find interesting)

Now comes the reason and explanation of the title of my post. Jesus' sacrifice is the new Passover sacrifice. The Passover sacrifice was a covenant; a family bond. It brought the people of God to the table with Him to affirm their commitment and His in being loyal to each other. He would be their God and they would be His people.

You will notice in the reading of the Passion from your bible that God says "It is finished" after asking for a drink. He can't possibly mean our salvation because all tradition and scripture state that our salvation was complete AFTER the resurrection of our Lord. He is talking about the transference of the Passover sacrifice (an imperfect one) into His sacrifice. Going back a bit, we see that Jesus skipped part of the Passover sacrifice. He said the cup of blessing, which is where He says "This is the cup of my blood". He leaves out the last cup though. He just gets up and leaves. After He is tortured and near death, he ask for a drink "so that scripture might be fulfilled". This drink is the final cup of the Passover celebration. Then He says "It is finished".

The sacrifice of Passover is only fulfilled when you eat the flesh of the lamb and drink of the (I think 4) cups. It is essential. This is why the Church celebrates the Eucharist. It is the REAL sacrifice of Jesus and, in eating the bread and drinking of the cup, we unite ourselves to Him; not just as part of His family, but with Him actually in us and us in Him. We are for the first time united with God to share in His rule, His life and His Glory.

After re-reading Michael's post, there are a few other things I need to clarify. It is true that Christ descended into hell, but you must realize what is meant. In Jewish theology, there were two hells, though not as we might know them (or think we know them). Hell was, basically, not heaven. Heaven was closed to all souls until Jesus fulfilled the Father's will by sacrificing himself. So all good, or at least semi-good souls went to a type of hell that was really like a waiting room. All damned souls that rejected God and did evil went to hell hell. This second hell wasn't a waiting room, it was permanent and the hell we know of today. Jesus descended into hell, but it was the first hell. He delivered the souls of the Jewish patriarchs and good people from this waiting room and into heaven. That is the meaning of Jesus' descent into hell.

Hope this helps,