Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Holy Week Reflection

"God cannot simply ignore man's disobedience and all the evil of history; he cannot treat it as if it were inconsequential or meaningless. Such 'mercy,' such 'unconditional forgiveness' would be that 'cheap grace' to which Dietrich Bonhoeffer rightly objected in the face of the appalling evil encountered in his day. That which is wrong, the reality of evil, cannot simply be ignored; it cannot just be left to stand. It must be dealt with; it must be overcome. Only this counts as true mercy. And the fact that God now confronts evil himself, because men are incapable of doing so--therein lies the 'unconditional' goodness of God, which can never be opposed to truth or the justice that goes with it. 'If we are faithless, he remains faithful--for he cannot deny himself', writes Paul to Timothy (2 Tim 2:13).

"This faithfulness of his means that he [Jesus] acts not only as God toward men, but also as man toward God, in this way establishing the Covenant irrevocably. So the figure of the Suffering Servant who bears the sins of many (Is 53:12) goes hand in hand with the promise of the new and indestructible covenant. This planting of the covenant in men's hearts, in mankind itself, in such a way that it can no longer be destroyed, takes place through the vicarious suffering of the Son who has become a servant. Ever since, standing against the whole flood of filth and evil is the obedience of the Son, in whom God himself suffered, and hence this obedience always infinitely surpasses the growing mass of evil (cf. Rom 5:16-20).

"The blood of animals could neither 'atone' for sin nor bring God and men together. It could only be a sign of hope, anticipating a greater obedience that would be truly redemptive. In Jesus' words over the chalice, all this is summed up and fulfilled: he gives us the 'new covenant in his blood'. 'His blood'--that is, the total gift of himself, in which he suffers to the end all human sinfulness and repairs every breach of fidelity by his unconditional fidelity. This is the new worship, which he establishes at the Last Supper, drawing mankind into his vicarious obedience. Our participation in Christ's body and blood indicates that his action is 'for many', for us, and that we are drawn into the 'many' through the sacrament."

--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (Ignatius Press, 2011), pp. 132--134

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