Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Profound Love of God

Every now and then, I come upon a book that really moves me.  The latest is Love Unveiled:  The Catholic Faith Explained by Dr. Edward Sri.  I own four other books that Dr. Sri has authored and every time I read one, I marvel at the clarity of his writing.  This book is for you if you are someone whose Catholic faith has gone stale.  This book is for you if you are a Catholic who has left the faith for a Protestant faith because someone has convinced you that the Church Christ founded is no longer relevant.  This book is for you if you are of another faith but have has some skepticism about what the real truth is in the matter of our salvation.  It’s impossible to give a full review of the book in such as small space as this, but let me give one example of an issue he addresses:  the forgiveness of our sins through the death of Jesus on the cross.

This is a topic that I have wrestled with for several years now.  If God the Father wanted to forgive the sins of mankind and open the gates of heaven, why didn’t He simply snap his fingers and say “let it be so?”  Why did he choose to have the second person of the Trinity become one of us to accomplish this mission.  Why was it necessary for Christ to die the horrible death on the cross?  And how does it happen that this death takes away our sins?  Sri uses Scripture passages along with quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and the writings of St. John Paul II to answer these questions.  It all comes down to love.  “It is love ‘to the end’ (John 13:1) that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction” (CCC 616). 

John Paul II explains that what gives the cross “its redemptive value is not the material fact that an innocent person (Christ) has suffered the chastisement deserved by the guilty (us) and that justice has thus been in some way satisfied.”  Rather, it was He who was without sin who “could take upon himself that which is the effect of sin, namely, suffering and death, giving to the sacrifice of his life a real value and a perfect redemptive meaning.”  Sri says that “in uniting himself so fully to the human family, which had been estranged from God and had been suffering under the curse of death, Jesus could lift us out of the grave with him in his resurrection and restore us to unity with the Father.”  So, Sri says, “Christ, a divine person, did what no regular human being could do.  He offered God the Father a gift of love that corresponds to the infinite gravity of sin committed against him.  Jesus alone could reconcile us to the Father.  Jesus, being truly human, can represent humanity and offer an act of love on our behalf.

Wow!  Powerful stuff!  God’s love for us is indeed profound.  A snapping of the fingers?  No!  An awesome demonstration of the love of God through the slow death experienced in a shocking crucifixion followed by the victory over death through his Resurrection?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  The witnesses became believers!  Our sins were taken away!  Amen!  Alleluia!

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