(A very short homily today because of the lengthy reading of the Passion and Death of Jesus from the Gospel according to St. Mark.)
Is there a connection between the violent death of Jesus and our sinfulness?
Yes, there is. But it surely is not what it was once interpreted to be – that Jesus’ acceptance of death by crucifixion was a sacrifice he was making “in payment of our debt to God for the sins of the world.”
Human misery is the result of inhuman living and gets compounded over the centuries. Jesus spoke of God as compassionate toward sinful humans; but he also showed us by his words and actions what being genuinely human actually entails.
His words were a threat to those who had power over others, to those who made their luxurious living by exploiting the weak, the poor, and the unconnected. It was those very teachings that brought him face to face with the dominant powers of his day and which earned his brutal execution.
We should look at the cross today with particular reverence and appreciation, not expecting to find in it payment for our sins. What we see instead is the supreme penalty Jesus was willing to accept rather than to be safely silent concerning what he knew about our compassionate God.
Our personal sins, and the sins of the world of all time, cannot frustrate such immense and unconditional love.