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Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
By Michael Terheyden
April 18th, 2014
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to reflect on the nature of sin.KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to reflect on the nature of sin.
I recently ran across a couple readings that touched on the relationship between the Passion and crucifixion of Christ and the nature of sin. Their focus is limited but very powerful. I would like to share these readings with you.
The first reading was written about 100 years before the birth of Christ. It is from Chapter Two in The Book of Wisdom:
1 And this is the false argument they use, 'Our life is short and dreary, there is no remedy when our end comes, no one is known to have come back from Hades.
2 We came into being by chance and afterwards shall be as though we had never been. The breath in our nostrils is a puff of smoke, reason a spark from the beating of our hearts;
3 extinguish this and the body turns to ashes, and the spirit melts away like the yielding air.
4 In time, our name will be forgotten, nobody will remember what we have done; our life will pass away like wisps of cloud, dissolving like the mist that the sun's rays drive away and that its heat dispels.
5 For our days are the passing of a shadow, our end is without return, the seal is affixed and nobody comes back.
6 'Come then, let us enjoy the good things of today, let us use created things with the zest of youth:
7 take our fill of the dearest wines and perfumes, on no account forgo the flowers of spring
8 but crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither,
9 no meadow excluded from our orgy; let us leave the signs of our revelry everywhere, since this is our portion, this our lot!
10 'As for the upright man who is poor, let us oppress him; let us not spare the widow, nor respect old age, white-haired with many years.
11 Let our might be the yardstick of right, since weakness argues its own futility.
12 Let us lay traps for the upright man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our sins against the Law, and accuses us of sins against our upbringing.
13 He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.
14 We see him as a reproof to our way of thinking, the very sight of him weighs our spirits down;
15 for his kind of life is not like other people's, and his ways are quite different.
16 In his opinion we are counterfeit; he avoids our ways as he would filth; he proclaims the final end of the upright as blessed and boasts of having God for his father.
17 Let us see if what he says is true, and test him to see what sort of end he will have.
18 For if the upright man is God's son, God will help him and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
19 Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his patience to the test.
20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death since God will rescue him -- or so he claims.'
21 This is the way they reason, but they are misled, since their malice makes them blind.
22 They do not know the hidden things of God, they do not hope for the reward of holiness, they do not believe in a reward for blameless souls.
23 For God created human beings to be immortal, he made them as an image of his own nature.
24 But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.
The next reading was written about 400 years before the birth of Christ. Its author is a pagan philosopher, Plato, and the reading is taken from Book II of The Republic.
The Republic is essentially a dialogue between Socrates and several of his fellow Athenians on the nature of justice. In the short quotation that follows, Glaucon is telling Socrates that the only way we can know for sure if a man is truly just is for us to take everything of value from him, including his good reputation, and see if he remains just up to the hour of his death.
Glaucon then says, ". . . the just man who is thought unjust will be scourged, racked, bound -- will have his eyes burned out; and, at last, after suffering every kind of evil, he will be impaled. . . ." Another common translation uses the word "crucified" in lieu of "impaled." So in the end, the truly just man is crucified and murdered.
Both of these readings are amazingly prophetic of the Passion of Christ, yet they also remind us that there is something about the nature of sin that calls for the death and destruction of that which is good, and especially of the one who is truly good and without sin.
Furthermore, we can see this same pattern repeating itself throughout history. We are seeing it today as Christendom is being torn down in the West and throughout the world. We are seeing it in many other ways too.
So when we look upon the crucified Christ today, let us take a long, hard look at the sin which resides in our heart and in our world. Let us then cast it aside and joyfully repent, for the Resurrection and Easter Sunday follow Good Friday.
The Gospel of John reminds us that ". . . God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him." (3:16-17).
Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.
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