The Death of Socrates

The Death of Socrates

Monday, 17 January 2011

The Redemption is a Rescue from God

In a real sense, the redemption is a rescuing from God. Certainly, it isn't the case that Satan ever had any kind of ownership of the human race, which was "bought out" by Jesus' death. The expiatory sacrifice of Calvary and of the Eucharis...t was/is offered to God, not Satan!

The redemption is not a rescuing from God's supposed vengeful vindictiveness, though. Ezekial makes it clear that God is not at all vengeful or vindictive. No, God is the great lover of humanity. While we were still sinners He loved us and committed Himself to us.

The redemption is a rescuing of humanity from humanity's wrong ideas and expectations of God. It is largely these that constitute the "sin" which "separates" us from God. Our instinctive ideas of holiness are simply wrong and serve to alienate us from God. Jesus' life, death and resurrection serve to show us what true holiness is all about.

The redemption is an at-one-ment and a reconciliation: a peace-making and bridge-building between estranged parties; but the estrangement was one-sided. It is mankind that rejects God, not God that rejected mankind. The redemption is also something of an apology from God to humanity for all the pain and suffering of creation. God wants to be able to stand by us shoulder-to-shoulder in all things, in all our experiences and to be able to say: "Yes, I know just what it is like."

In Calvary and the Mass, God freely gives to us Himself, so that we can in turn have a rational oblation to offer back: a gift to adequately express our love for God and that is fit to exchange and trade with God in thankful return for our very being and life and sanitisation.

It isn't absolutely wrong to talk of God being propitiated (the Latin liturgy regularly uses this idea) but this must be understood only in a subjective sense. God is objectively always propitious (favourable, well-inclined, friendly) towards us; but when we are estranged from God by sin then God seems to us to be anything other than propitious. Hence, when we are reconciled with God it seems to us that God has been propitiated and it is fine to speak of God being propitiated in this sense.

Christ is the propitiation for our sins in that He is the loving face of God and also because He Himself "became sin" for us. Sin is separation from God. Jesus stepped into the breach that lies between us and God. He became the Pontifex Maximus by becoming the Bridge of Salvation Himself: the ladder leading from Earth to Heaven. Hence, as Jesus stepped into the breach that is sin, He "became" the breach that is sin. He occupied and filled in and eradicated the gap of sin that separated humanity from God.

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