Today is the most solemn day of the year, and Catholics spend it in prayer, fasting and abstinence. Why do we do it? What is the significance of Jesus dying on the cross?
Billy Kangas discusses this question on his blog
An excerpt …
One day I came in and there was a giant banner hanging over the pulpit that read, “Why did Jesus die?” At first I didn’t take too much notice of it, but as I sat alone in the room for the next two hours the question began to gnaw at me. It got under my skin, it infected me. It became more than a question, it became a challenge. The question “why did Jesus die,” eventually drove me to question my faith, rethink my dogma and eventually set me on a path that ended in my joining the Catholic Church in the 2013 Easter Vigil.
Kangas goes on to explain the difference between the Protestant ‘penal substitution’ explanation (Jesus has to suffer for us because God is angry) and the Catholic view:
Augustine realized that God could have saved us with his power. God is fully capable of overpowering any creature, sin, vice, or person. God chooses to overcome with Christ’s death because God wanted to create a life with humanity where they could participate in God’s saving action with Him. A pure exercise of divine power would not have given humanity a way of participation. God used the shedding of blood because he wanted to give humanity a path of salvation that they could imitate, and even be united in through the sacramental life of the church.
Although men and women are freed from death and forgiven of their sins, they are not made perfect when they are baptized into Christ. People still fall into temptation and sin. Augustine also viewed the Cross as a sure guide for endurance in Christ. God’s action in Christ’s life, and death is the starting point that demonstrates what true obedience to God looks like. The salvation which is inaugurated on the cross is worked out as God’s grace works actively in us, and is made perfect as the Church as a whole is saved from even their sinful desires through the purgative life of the saints in unity with one another in Christ. (c.f. Augustine, Sermon 222; 232; 233)
I have put together a booklet for The Lord’s Passion, which we remember this afternoon at 3 p.m. Please join us for this and Stations of the Cross this morning at 10 a.m.
Word format: Good Friday A B C
Pdf format: Good Friday A B C