Dear Homily Subscribers:
On Passion – Palm — Sunday I made one appeal to all those with whom I was privileged to share my faith and my thoughts, and that was that they banish once and for all the notion that Jesus was sent by God to suffer and die for the sins of humanity. Thinking of that sort, ultimately pagan and rooted in primitive, very bad theology, has us believe that God has been offended by our sins and is determined that satisfaction be made for them. And so, relenting a bit, God appoints Jesus to suffer and die miserably to compensate for the sins of us all.
Isn’t it time for us to let go of that fable? What does it say about God? What does it say about Jesus? What does it say about us? It comes out of that ancient theology which holds that, in order for us to be reconciled to the offended God, we must offer sacrifices of appeasement – above all, the sacrifice of the innocent Jesus on the cross of shame and death.
I believed it once, but not for a long time since then. Consider, please, that Jesus was killed, not by the will of God, but by the frenzied will of evil persons and evil institutions that needed to exterminate him so that their own self-serving enterprises could go on unchallenged and unhindered.
The same forces and the same evil exist today. The battle rages on, but it is not won yet. We have a long way to go, during which time we can be comforted and encouraged by our belief in Jesus’ resurrection, a foreshadowing of our own.
I wish you an enlightened Holy Week, filled with promise and hope. When you look at the cross, don’t see it as the price of our salvation but rather as the sign of how much Jesus loved us and the one he called Father, that he was willing to accept such suffering and death as the penalty for continuing his teaching and preaching and confronting in the name of truth and love.
Father Richard G. Rento