Laudetur Iesus Christus – nunc et in aeternum!
May Jesus Christ be praised – both now and forever!
“Who killed Jesus?” This question appears in different ways, sometimes implying culpability to the Jewish people. The cry of the manipulated crowd, “His blood be on us and our children!” should not lead us to “blame the Jews” for the death of our Lord. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, the Jewish leaders themselves were divided over Jesus (CCC 595-6). Jesus’ words of forgiveness from the cross (and His forgiveness of St. Peter) “both accept ‘the ignorance’ of the Jews in Jerusalem and even of their leaders” (CCC 597).
Placing the blame on any “group” of people overlooks the truth of the Incarnation: Christ came to reconcile all people to the Father by freeing us from our sins. “The Jews killed Jesus” reduces Him to a mere political or social martyr, akin to Abraham Lincoln, Franz Ferdinand, or Gandhi. This perspective also suggests that Jesus’ torture and death were “the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances” (CCC 599). As Jesus continually reminds his disciples throughout His public ministry, he must go to Jerusalem, be handed over, die, and rise again.
Our sins are the reason Christ suffered and died. The Catechism reminds us we who profess to know Christ cannot claim ignorance, unlike “the rulers of this age” (I Cor 2:8a). “When we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him” (CCC 598). The suffering and death of Christ was horrific; in the horror and ugliness of the Crucifixion, “God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part” (CCC 604).
Br. Thomas More
In today’s readings from Isaiah, the Gospel and the Responsorial Psalm, the inspired authors remind the people of God that God has chosen them from among all the nations of the earth to “shine before others” as “light.” For this reason, He calls them to fulfill this vocation in life. Accordingly, the authors describe the people of God using the metaphors of a lighted “lamp” and the first light of the morning sun (Is 58:7-8, Ps 112:4-5, Mt 5:14-16). In the readings these metaphors of light for God’s people have the nature or meaning of moral goodness. In this sense, they signify that the people of God have a vocation to be morally good. In doing so, they image the light of God’s goodness through the moral life.
In the first paragraph of part three of the Catechism, “Life in Christ,” the Church proclaims that through the saving action of Christ, Christians have been “brought into the light of the Kingdom of God” (CCC 1691). For this reason, She calls them “children of light” (CCC 1695) who have received “the light” of Christ (1 Jn 1:5.7). In this sense, for Christians “light” here represents first and foremost their spiritual participation in the saving merits of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection through the light of divine grace. This means that they have been spiritually recreated in the divine image of Christ as sons and daughters of light by the grace of Baptism. According to the Church, this recreation of human beings in Christ is the basis of their moral life. They have the capacity to live in the light of Christ morally as Christians because they have been spiritually reborn in His divine grace. This means that they have the infused virtues and gifts to practice the Christian moral life. As a result, their spiritual desire for happiness in Christ has been perfected supernaturally. As Christians, they have a supernatural inclination to participate in the Beatitude of Christ, His perfect happiness, by knowing the Truth and loving the Good in their moral actions (CCC 1691-1724). In doing so, they image the “light of Christ” through their graced moral agency. They become light for others. This is called freedom for excellence in Christ. Br. Mariano