Monday, May 12, 2014
Christ's Incarnation--the solution to our sin: 4th Sunday of Easter
We continue to celebrate the glorious mystery of Easter throughout the Easter season. We know that Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection opened the doors to heaven for us all.
Yet have you ever wondered: was there another way God could have saved us? Flash back to Adam and Eve just after the first sin of humanity. Could God have “fixed” this problem in a different way? Some of the greatest philosophical and theological thinkers in our Church (St. Augustine, St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas and others) have pondered this question.
For instance, could God have created us so that we would have never sinned? Sure, but this would have made us mere robots or computer programs (Aquinas didn’t know about these yet!) In being created in God’s image and likeness He gave us free will, meaning that we had the choice to love God or reject Him. By this very fact, God chose to create us with freedom, including the freedom to sin.
Could God, then, have simply forgiven Adam and Eve and restored everything back to normal? The aforementioned theologians discounted this theory because God has full knowledge (meaning he couldn’t simply forget something) and is just. Sin has consequences, and God would not (and did not) ignore this. After all, it wasn’t God who had sinned!
What about us? Is there anything Adam and Eve could have done to restore the breach? Well, no. There is nothing any of us can do to repair the damages we incur through sinning. Adam and Eve, then, created quite a predicament as man had to atone for sin, yet man did not have the power to do so.
The incarnation, according to our great thinkers, was the solution. Jesus, as truly God and truly man, assumed our human nature. As such he could offer atonement on behalf of his sinful brothers and sisters. And, as God, he had the eternal power necessary to atone for sin.
But where it really gets awesome is thinking how our redemption was won. The incarnation, on its own merits, would have been enough to save us. That eternal leap that Jesus Christ made—from the eternal Godhead to humanity—was sufficient to forgive all sin and make all things new. A drop of his blood would have been enough for us. Yet we know Jesus was scourged, mocked, carried a heavy cross and was crucified. St. Thomas Aquinas said it was fitting that Jesus Christ went through such an ordeal because it showed the depths of God’s love for us. It shows how far God is willing to go to win us back. It shows how much He wants us in His company, now and forever.
Our readings illustrate this eternal gift. Peter is quoted in the Acts of the Apostles: “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” and adds in his first letter: “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” In the Gospel, Jesus makes a promise and he backs this promise up not only through his incarnation but also by his death and resurrection: “I came so that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.”