What would happen if the whole physical universe, with its billion and billions of galaxies and stars, rested on only one point like an immense overturned pyramid? Can you even imagine what pressure that point would have to bear? Do you remember as a child when we would “hog pile” on someone? (I am not recommending this.)
|Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua
How about the whole moral universe? If you were able to calculate or quantify the sins of every man, woman, and child that ever existed and could come to rest on one man, what would that be like?
We believe that happened to Jesus Christ. “The Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus took upon himself, though he was sinless, the sins of us all. The cross he bore to Calvary was because of the sins of humanity.
Though our present culture rarely if ever refers to sin or our culpability for it, our faith does. In fact, the reason our Lord entered into human existence was to save us from our sins. As Father Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., wrote: “Sin and iniquity are too vague and general words. We should give a proper name to them. Jesus took upon himself all the hatred, the violence, the oppression of the poor and the defenseless, all the lust, the pride, the envy, the falsehood. And who can think that no one of these sins is present in his or her life?”
This Lent, while our church undergoes her purification, let us not scapegoat anyone else, but rather examine our own consciences and repent of our sins. We do so every Lent not to crush ourselves with guilt but so that we might give over to the Lord the sins he was willing to bear in order to save us. “He was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus willingly did this so that we might be made whole.
If sin has little meaning, why did Jesus do what he did? The Christian takes sublime consolation in believing that God loved us so much that when we were trapped in our sins and had no way out, he sent his Son to buy us back — the unexpected rescue.
As we consider what we should be giving up this Lent, how about adding to the mix trying to meditate on our redemption from God’s perspective? I mean, forget self a little more and begin our Lenten journey thinking and praying about what Jesus did for us. Reflect on things from Jesus’ perspective.
Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to take upon himself the sins of us all. Not only did he endure the physical suffering, so he knows intimately well our own physical sufferings and illnesses, but also he knows our emotional, psychological maladies. He experienced in his human nature the darkness, loneliness, rejection, mockery with an intensity that we cannot fathom. He did so out of love. What was that like for him?
How merciful is God? Why does he go to such great lengths in order to save us? What was it like for Jesus to endure all of this for us? In spending time with Jesus this Lent, how do I grow my relationship with him? What is he asking of me? How do I surrender more to Jesus?
Lent is rich with graces. It is the perfect preparation, once again, for our Easter.
Bishop Paul Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.