Salvation and the Cross

  • Have you ever been rescued before? What did that feel like?
  • At some point in your life, you will very likely be asked if you are saved and how you know that you are saved. How would you respond to that question?

Gospel Reading:  John 19:  30 – 42

Catholics would say that we were saved by Christ on the cross.   We cannot simply say that Jesus saved us on the cross and then live according to the same old sinful patterns in life.  We must make every effort to change our lives and live according to Jesus’ example.

It is because of Jesus’ love for us to the very end that he ultimately gave his sacrifice redeeming value.  It is because of Jesus’ love for us to the end that his death atoned and made satisfaction for our sins.  It is the life he led and gave us that is salvific.  We are called to live like Jesus and give our life in his service too. It is not Jesus’ death alone that is the means of rescue or redemption; rather, it is Jesus’ WHOLE LIFE, offered up selflessly and sacrificially in service for the good of others, even unto death.

Satisfaction is a tricky concept when it comes to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Why should he have to make satisfaction? When one thinks objectively about what satisfaction means, it would seem that satisfaction should be made by the one who commits the offense, not someone who is innocent. (We, in fact, make satisfaction when we are given a penance in the sacrament of reconciliation.)

St. Thomas Aquinas explains this by telling us that satisfaction comes about when the maker of satisfaction (Jesus) offers to the one offended (God) something that delights him more than his hatred of the offense. Jesus’ self-sacrificing love and obedience, the worthiness of his life (he was, after all, both God and a human being), the utter horror of his passion and the sorrow it caused him outweighed the malice of sin. The satisfaction that Jesus offered on the cross is greater than the offense committed by humanity.

God not only causes salvation, God is salvation. God is perfect fulfillment and happiness. True salvation means we are completely fulfilled and know true peace and salvation.

From Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God: 

We have a God of “pathos”, a divine care for the world.  Our God of pathos feels intensely:  loves, cares, is glad, gets angry over injustice, urges, prods, forgives, is disappointed, gets frustrated, suffers righteous indignation, weeps, grieves, promises, pours out mercy, rejoices, consoles, wipes away tears and loves some more.

Dorothy Soelle on the divine power of the cross:

  1. It is selfless love.  Jesus is a man for others, having only his love.  This leads him to die powerless on the cross, with no armies, no magic tricks to save him.
  2. It is a creative, noncompelling, life-giving good.  In raising Jesus from the dead, God instills hope for all, for everything, even the dead.
  3. It is call to solidarity.  We can know God’s love only when we become a part of it ourselves.  We can know the God of compassion only in committed resistance to every form of unjust suffering inflicted on others.

Reflection Questions

  • Have you ever thought about what makes our faith special?  What are your beliefs about the implications of Jesus’ resurrection?
  • What sacrifices have you made?  Did the good outweigh the loss?  What did love have to do with it?
  • When you venerate the cross on Good Friday, what will you hold in your heart?
  • If others could only watch how you spend your time, how you spend your money, what you love, who you love, do you think they would see that Jesus has risen from the dead?
  • What is something you can do TODAY to be more like Jesus?
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