The mere fact that my mother was born in the Middle East sparked a profound question during my high school years. I pondered, what if my mother had been raised Jewish or Muslim? Would I not then follow that faith? These thoughts led me to a seemingly intellectual conclusion – that religion was merely a product of our parents, and the ultimate purpose in life was simply to be a good person.
However, as I delved deeper into the depths of our faith, I began to realize the flaws in my argument. I had failed to consider that in an orderly world, crafted by a loving God, actions bear consequences and punishments. Expiation and reconciliation become necessary for the harmony of this design.
Let’s take a simple example. Imagine two children engaged in an argument, with one consumed by anger, throwing a punch. What unfolds for that child? The parents step in, handing out punishments such as grounding or restricted screen time. Oh, the pain! Now, fast forward to that same child as an adult, still wrestling with a volatile temper, throwing a punch at a stranger. What follows? Legal consequences, potential trials, charges of assault and battery, leading to county jail or community service.
Now, let’s raise the stakes. Picture that individual, still burdened by anger, directing their fury towards a local mayor or governor. The repercussions escalate, resulting in a sentence within the confines of a state prison. And now, imagine that same person, harboring that same childhood anger, launching an attack on a Congressman, a Senator, or even the President. The outcome could be fatal, or at the very least, a life behind the impenetrable walls of a federal prison.
What is the fundamental difference between these scenarios? The anger remains unchanged, as does the action taken. However, the consequences and punishments differ vastly. What altered? It is to whom the target of that anger is directed towards.
Now, consider the consequences for sinning against God, who is infinite. Wouldn’t our punishment then become infinite? Can we, as finite beings, ever repay such a debt? The answer, resoundingly, is no. But here’s the remarkable truth: if Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, He can bear the weight of our infinite offenses. Only Jesus can bridge the vast chasm that separates us. And that, my friends, is the reconciliation that St. Paul speaks of in our second reading!
To be a good person remains of utmost importance, but there is something even more profound that Jesus Christ offers to the world than a mere example of goodness. He offers us reconciliation with our loving God. He offers to restore the bond that was broken by our transgressions. So, let us embrace the truth that being a good person is significant, but let us also recognize the extraordinary gift Jesus Christ extends to us – the opportunity to be reconciled with our Creator, to have our sins forgiven, and to experience the boundless love and grace of our Heavenly Father.