Couldn’t the Redemption Have Been Accomplished…..well….More Easily?

D.J.C.M.N

One of the questions that arises when we really put our minds on the Crucifixion goes along the lines of: WHY that? Here you have what was one of the most agonizing types of deaths of the time, and not only that, you have an omnipotent God who could have used a much simpler and less unsettling method, while achieving the exact same thing.

And to give credit to anyone who wonders this question, it really is quite reasonable: God could have done anything. He could have said, “You’re redeemed” and all could have gone on quite rosily. 

And yet, He did not. 

I’ve come to realize recently that there is far more to the death of Our Lord than just to be redemptive. Let’s backtrack a bit and look at God. It sounds like a funny question, but what does God do with Himself? We know what He does to us: He sustains our existence, so that we don’t all of the sudden vanish into the nothingness from which He made us; He loves us, desiring what is beneficial to us; He gives us grace to avoid sin; He desires that we be united to Him in Heaven, the purpose for which we were created; and He does countless other things. 

But in Himself, God is much simpler—and yet, much more profound. We profess Faith in a single Divine Being Who possesses the distinct quality of being more than one person. I don’t need to go farther into that specific doctrine for the time being. It’s sufficient for us to know that among the three Persons Who are God, there is a continuos outflow of love from one to the other, a total lack of self-interestedness, a total emptying of self for love of the others—in a word, a total gift of self between Them. That is what God does in His own life. The Father totally and infinitely gives Himself to the Son, the Son to the Father, both to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit to both.

What God does infinitely in Himself is what we are called to do—despite our finiteness—in our earthly lives. God wants us to be self-expending, both for others and for Himself. This is why Our Lord makes such commands as, “….if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, give him thy cloak also; and whosoever shall compel thee to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not away” (Mt. 5:40-42). Now obviously, we humans are limited by our very nature. We cannot be totally self-expending like God can.

But believe it or not, we can come close. We know that Our Lord Jesus Christ is God possessing a human nature. Would not the actions of God in a human nature essentially mirror the action of God in His divine nature? God is necessarily self-exhaustive. He must necessarily go to the limit of self-giving, and if a human nature would not allow Him to be self-sacrificing on an infinite scale, He would spend every last ounce of the finite nature He had. 

In short, He would give His entire life. Because that is how God works. Certainly Christ our Lord had the power to redeem us in any fashion, and such an act as a mere declaration and then POOF might seem far nicer to us, sparing Christ His suffering. Yet even if He could have done such a thing, I doubt He would have wanted to. He said to the disciples shortly before the episode in Gethsemane that there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends (Jn. 15:13). To merely declare us redeemed rather than to sacrificially make us redeemed would not follow the nature of God, and it would lose for us two important teaching opportunities: 1) to demonstrate the extent of the Divine Love for us; 2) to show us how God acts in Himself and how we must act also. 

Now because these are just a few reasons, if anyone else has anything to add, please do that. I have a tendency to overlook interesting things and would love additional insights on the matter.

Farewell for now, please pray for me, and may God and His Blessed Mother protect you now and always.

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10 thoughts on “Couldn’t the Redemption Have Been Accomplished…..well….More Easily?”

  1. Very nice, Mike–this pulls together a lot of different doctrines (i.e., the self-giving of the Trinity, Christ’s sacrificial love for us, etc.) and make the manner of the Redemption make more sense. Did you pick some of this up from the Summa? Sounds a bit like an argument St. Thomas would make.

    I would add, though, that not only was Christ’s manner of death necessary in the sense that “He must necessarily go to the limit of self-giving”, as you said–but it was ‘necessary’ in the sense that He needed to give us an example–He needed to experience all the pain the world could throw at any other human being, and more of it, in order to truly destroy sin which brought suffering and death into the world in the first place. St. Thomas said something along these lines, no? http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4046.htm#article6 (I think the fourth point of the Respondeo is what I am trying to get at.) But perhaps that is just another post. :D

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    1. Awesome, someone DID have additional insights on the matter! I actually didn’t get any of this from the Summa (though I’m sure it’s in there somewhere, and I’m sure Aquinas was able to formulate it much better than I). One time a friend asked the very question that began this post, and although my answer wasn’t quite as structured as this, it contained a lot of the same ideas.

      Thanks for commenting, too. Comments are the best. lol.

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      1. If you haven’t already, I suggest looking at the first and second parts of the Respondeo under Article 4: Whether Christ ought to have suffered on a cross? Some very interesting stuff there. (Did you know Danny and I still make jokes about the Summa? Like, there’ll be random insertions of “….as has been proven above” or “as the Philosopher has said” during Algebra or something….)

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      2. I don’t think I’ve read that part of Article 4, no–if I did it was a long time ago. I’ll see if I can get to that later tonight.

        LOL, Aquinas class definitely left some unfading memories. I find myself, in Philosophy class when we are discussing Latin, thinking of certain phrases in Latin–sed contra, for instance, or per se, or “Respondeo dicendum quod necesse est dicere.”

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      3. Oh my goodness, the “Respondeo dicendum quod necesse est dicere” is always at the forefront of my mind when I think of the Summa. It took forever for many of us to remember that the “dicendum” was “it must be said” rather than “by saying” (i.e., “I respond by saying that….). I do really miss that class. It was one of the most enjoyable subjects I’ve had, and it was especially fun since we were past all the grammatical learning. We just got to DO Latin.

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      4. Argh, those Latin classes were so amazing! I shall never ever forget them either, lol. Any time I even think about combating heresy, “Respondeo dicendum quod” pops into my head instantaneously.

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  2. If Jesus came into this century and received a death by injection, all those people who have suffered violence or torture could not related to Him. Their pain would have been greater.

    Very enjoyable reading, Michael, each time. Keep up the good work!

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