Saturday, March 06, 2010

Does Christ’s Death Go Against Justice?

It would seem that God the Father committed an act of injustice when He has Christ, His Son who is completely innocent, suffer and die for condemned humanity. St. Bonaventure, however, tells us that it would be an injustice if Christ suffered against His will. Yet, this is not the case. Christ, Himself, tells us:

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father." (John 10:17-18)

Christ willingly gives His life for our salvation, because “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Here is St. Bonaventure’s explanation from his Breviloquium:

“Finally, no innocent person is morally obliged to suffer against his will, since this would contradict the order of divine justice; also, no mortal being wishes for death and suffering by natural impulse, for it is his nature to flee death. Christ, then, could assume these penalties only in a qualified manner: He was not to suffer against His rational will, since He not only lived in the state of beatitude and of union with the omnipotent Godhead through which He could repel any evil, but He also possessed perfect innocence which, according to the order of natural justice, cannot be obligated to suffer. Yet He was to suffer against His instinctive will: that is, against the sensible impulse and desire of His flesh. He expressed in His prayer - a rational act - the will of the flesh through which He shrank from suffering, when He said: "Let this cup pass away from Me"; but He conformed His rational will to the will of His Father, thus placing reason above instinct, when He said: "Not My will but Thine he done." One will was not opposed to the other, for "in His divine will, He wished what was just; in His rational will, He consented to justice; and in His natural instinct, while averse to pain, yet He did not contest justice. Each will acted in its field, tending toward its proper object: divine will to justice, rational will to obedience, and sensible will to nature." And so there was in Christ no conflict or struggle, but peaceful order and orderly peace.” (4.8.5)

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