In Genesis, we learn that humanity fell from God’s grace, but in The New Testament we find that man was reinstated to God by Christ’s sacrifices and death. At Easter, we come to celebrate this wondrous redemption of mankind by Christ’s acts, and how mankind is restored to favor in God’s eyes. Old Testament stories reveal that God was at times very angry and punitive with man. Yet, even in the Old Testament, when rejected and angered by some, God showed compassion, being willing to rescue those who were faithful. A quick review of a few biblical stories verifies these facts—In Genesis we find the story of Noah, whom God instructed to build an ark to prepare for the flood which destroyed all the earth. In Jeremiah 5:1, comes God’s promise, “Find one just man, and I will spare Jerusalem.” The Book of Genesis 18:26 lays out the tragedy of the Sodom and Gomorrah, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Egypt’s tale of woe comes from the ten plagues– water, frogs, maggots, flies, disease, un-healable boils, hail/thunder, locusts, darkness, and death of the firstborn of all Egyptian humans and animals, as related in the Genesis story with the angel of death’s killing of first born sons of those who did not have blood splattered on the door frames. Judges 3:8 states, “Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chu’shan-rish-a-tha’im, king of Mesopotamia, and the children of Israel served Chu’shan-rish-a-tha’im eight years.” Such was the lowly status of man with The angry God.
God the Father was provoked—mankind could only sacrifice animals, and His anger was at our injustices to Him, and He demanded retribution. Christ’s death changed all this. Christ was the perfect retribution, and the only possible retribution. The Father is no longer angry with us, and we are reunited to Him. We passed from a death in its most horrific form of separation from God, to resurrection and its joyful reunifying of man to his Creator.
Our Catholic observance of the Stations of the Cross impresses upon all of us, but most particularly children, in a very graphic way, the sacrifices that Jesus made for us. From the Agony in the Garden to His death on the cross, Christ accepted His role to mend the rift between man and The Father. The stations vividly portray the enormity of the sacrifice from Christ’s anguish of waiting for the Romans to come and arrest him, to Peter’s sleepiness, to Judas’ betrayal, to the trial, and finally to the path to Calvary and crucifixion. Catholic tradition has a kind of dialogue re-enacting the day before Christ’s passion with the Roman throng represented by the faithful chanting “Crucify him,” and Pontius Pilate, represented by the priest, saying, “But He is innocent.”
We know the rest of the story. We are restored to renewed favor with the Father, and we have the opportunity every day, but especially in a short two weeks, to once again celebrate our new life with God on Easter Sunday.