“Ask a Priest: Christ’s suffering and dying on the cross…”

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Q: What did Christ accomplish by suffering and dying on the cross? -J.M.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Your question touches on a core truth of Christ’s mission in the world. As “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” Christ by his death on the cross accomplished the definitive redemption of men (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 613). His is also the sacrifice of the new covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling man to the Almighty through the “blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (also see 613). Sin offends an infinitely good God, and we as finite creatures could never fully make up for our transgressions; it took God himself to pay the price for our redemption.

Soberly the Church notes that “sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured” (see Catechism, 598). Indeed, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus (see 598).

Not all is dark, however. Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth. This fulfilled God the Father’s will “to raise up men to share in his own divine life” (see Catechism, 541). The Father does this by gathering men around his Son, Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church. In a striking way, Christ would accomplish the coming of his kingdom by his death on the cross and resurrection (see Catechism, 542). “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32).

In other words, by suffering on the cross and rising from the dead (we can never separate the Crucifixion from the Resurrection), Jesus gave us hope — hope that God’s love for each one of us is so unconditional and so powerful that we can always count on it, in spite of our sins and sinful tendencies.

All this carries a practical aspect for our daily lives. Christ’s passion and death gives a new meaning to suffering. We can offer our own suffering back to Christ and unite it with his redemptive passion. By “offering it up,” we can help turn suffering into something valuable.

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One Comment
  1. The following line in Father’s answer ‘pops out’ to me: we can never separate the Crucifixion from the Resurrection. I like ‘words’ and the meaning they invoke ‘in spirit.’ (not quite the dictionary definition of the word itself.)

    Yes, in Christ’s ‘passion’ of suffering for ALL (past, present, future humanity of that singular event in time)
    His crucifixion brought about a ‘new covenant’ with God, Father that was once broken by the disobedience to God’s command, of two who are known as Adam and Eve.) I puzzled that there is a connection between the RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ from the TOMB and the MARY who said YES and JESUS the Christ child being born from the WOMB. (Tomb? Womb? both words indicate a ‘dark place’ and of course the two words rhyme)

    I came to this: the rising from the tomb represents Jesus bringing A NEW DIVINE LIFE to ALL SOULS (death overcome) Mary, called BLESSED amongst women, speaks GOD’S IDEA for women, not that S-SSSS-erpant who told Eve she could be LIKE GOD. MARY’S ‘YES’ to bear ‘God’s ONLY Divine Son’ (though no relations with man) was the means to WORK WITH not against God. Her ‘womb’ represents the practical NEW DIVINE LIFE ‘on earth’ aka THE CHURCH. Mary is responsible for the birth of JESUS and ALL SOULS born ‘in Christ’ via the cleansing water of Baptism.

    Keeping this simple: as JESUS Christ himself ROSE FROM THE TOMB and ascended back to His Father in heaven, MARY, who first said YES, to the Holy Spirit, brought our Savior to earth, to live His life, death, and Resurrection from the darkness of a tomb as Mary, new Eve, is called co-redemptrix WITH CHRIST who brings all humanity to the full rising in Christ, by her earthly HOLY womb — THE church aka body of Christ. A HOLY COMMUNION again with God, and OUT OF ‘THE WORLD’ where SIN prevails!) MARY IS MOST BLESSED amongst women, who in SPIRIT is responsible for the new birth of ‘all God’s sons and daughters’ — IN CHRIST! Humanity SINLESS BY GRACE of Christ’s work on the cross. CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION did not take sin out of the world, it allowed humanity to enter GOD’S NEW WORLD (heaven and the FULLNESS OF GOD’S GRACE…via CHRIST’S CHURCH) SINLESS BY GRACE as GOD conceived Mary’s soul)

    Mary did bring forth THE SAVIOR of the world, who later would die ‘wholly’ to the things of the material world, but ‘ONE INCARNATE GOD’ has different meaning with our ONE Triune God, creator of soul, redeemer of soul, and Holy Spirit, counselor of soul. WE ARE NOT LIKE GOD, as Eve and Adam wanted.
    We become ONE WITH THE GOD’S ‘ONLY’ Divine Son, and work out our salvation WITH GOD’s SON: Baptism ‘re birth’ / Taking and Eating of the consecrated bread on altar by Christ’s chosen apostles who speak the words of Faith that brings Christ to come to such / and confirmed in adult faith, via BLESSED OIL (Confirmation) to live a mature (Spirited) life with Christ.

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