In the previous post we clarify that there is no virtue in suffering. Instead, suffering produces virtues. St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, identifies some as perseverance, character, and hope. Those who have undergone suffering, as well as witnesses to the sufferings of others will surely agree with the claim. Stories of transformation in individuals and their significant others are innumerable to tell. My life-journey is now part of that package.
But what makes the significance of Jesus peculiar? The prophet Isaiah has already provided the answer long before this was first asked. “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 53).
A brother in faith and partner in development endeavors has a very clear and logical presentation of this redemptive process. Atty. Edwin R. Catacutan considers his book, Creation, Fall and Redemption, as a lawyer’s incursion into Christian Theology. In half- an- inch thick document, divided into 15 short chapters, the book capsulizes the story of the Bible. For him the bible is divided into two parts with highlight on the three significant cosmic events, i.e. the title of the book. These are the dominant thoughts of the Bible story. The first part (Creation and Fall) contains the reasons why the rest of the bible was written i.e. Redemption Procedure: Effects and Aftermath.The Creation and Fall story was logically and dramatically described in the book. The author contends that with all the vastness of the universe and the complexities of the life forms on earth (and the uniqueness of man), it took God just the thirty verses of Chapter 1 of Genesis to describe His creative process. Man, as the crowning glory of God’s creation, makes the entire creation complete and very good. Yet, what took God thirty verses to create was spoiled by only one verse in Genesis 3:6. Ironically, the incident was a singular chance for man and woman to exercise their free choice to obey or disobey God.
Traditionally, this human debacle has been told with emphasis (or blame) on the woman’s frailties. But Atty. Catacutan, in his book, stresses man’s accountability for allowing the wrong arguments to prevail when he knows what is right. As ever cunning, the enemy of God dealt with the woman who had not directly received from God the prohibition rule. The author contends that at the time God gave the command to Adam in Genesis 2:17, Eve was not yet created. Subsequently, she was swayed by deceptive arguments. Ironically, Adam never raised any objection to straighten the record and save the situation. Worst, when he even partook of the forbidden fruit after being assured that nothing bad happened to his partner’s experiment. The burden of guilt therefore falls on the man. For the author, Adam intentionally disobeyed as the command not to eat was given only to him by God. Eve was simply deceived as she never directly received the prohibition.
Logically, the fall of humanity has put God in a dilemma. How can He show His love to humankind without breaking His own rule? This is what makes Jesus suffering significant. As a justice requirement, there needs to be a redeemer to the sentenced humanity. Legally, angels are disqualified, having no physical body and subsequent death. As progeny of Adam already burdened with own death, nobody from the human race is qualified. Hence, no one can substitute for another, or for own self, despite willful act. Neither can any one force another to sacrifice for himself. Purchasing redemption is also a legal impossibility. For, as the author argues, with reference to the bible, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24.1)
(To be continued)