The Lord Jesus freely laid down His life for the salvation of the human race. He offered Himself to the Father as a sacrifice for our sins. He did it today, on Good Friday.
Good Friday is therefore a sacred day, one of the most sacred of the year. There are a number of ways to keep the day holy—going to church for the Sacred Liturgy, or Stations of the Cross, going to Confession, prayer, fasting, abstinence from meat.
These days, though, for some people, Good Friday passes more or less unnoticed. For some people it’s as good a day as any to go to a baseball game, or watch a movie, or go out to eat.
We live in a society in which some people do not keep Good Friday holy. This forces us to confront a serious question. How we spend Good Friday is not just a matter of personal devotional choice, of private preferences. The question we have to ask is a question about the human race as a whole.
Let’s put the question like this: Did Christ really have to die for us? Did mankind need Him to make the sacrifice He made for us today? Does the human race need a Savior?
Or are we really just fine on our own? Is the human race okay by itself? Can any human being say to Christ crucified: “Hey, thanks—but you went to too much trouble. Don’t do me any favors.”
Christ is a unique human being—He is the only divine human being. With Him, the human race as a whole can stand before God and say, “Lord, we are a race of sinners. We are dust and ashes before You. You made us out of love, and we have poured contempt on You in return. But we can boast of your only-begotten Son. He is just and true—He bore witness to You unto death—and He is one of us. See and love in us what You see and love in Him, O Creator, and have mercy on us.”
On the other hand what do we human beings have to show for ourselves without Christ? Left to ourselves, what are our hopes? Let’s consider…
We humans are ingenious. We have tall buildings. We have many, many cars, many television shows, a lot of guns and ammo. Our race has produced both LeBron James and Kobe Bryant at the same time. We have invented pizza, modern medicine, cellphones, umbrellas, space shuttles, and numerous other accomplishments. Splendid.
But when we go to meet God at the end of our lives, what will we do with all these things? Will they do us any good?
None of our accomplishments can exactly recommend us to God. God is perfect, and we are not. We have no claims on Him. Before Him, we have no rights. He owes us nothing. Everything we have, He gave us in the first place.
Without Christ we would come to the end of our earthly life in a state of terrifying weakness. We would be utterly bereft.
Are you or I going to go to judgment and then pull out an iPod and say, “Look, Lord—look at all this great music I put on my iPod. Shouldn’t you reward me for that?” Or am I going to say, “Look, Lord—I was a great cook. I grilled some killer hamburgers. Send me to heaven for my hamburgers.”
It really is ridiculous, the idea that we would be alright without Christ.
Do we need a Savior? We need Him more than we need oxygen. We need Him more than we need gravity to keep us from floating into outer space. We need Christ more than we need our incorrigible selves.
There is only one thing more desperate than the suffering Christ had to endure to save us today. The only thing more desperate is just how desperately we needed Him to do it.
3 thoughts on “Did He Have to Do It?”
Fr. White – Thanks so much for your blog, which I discovered while searching for news of Fr. Bill Finch’s death. I am really impressed with it both as a Catholic and as a communicator. I’ve read two postings and plan to read more.
You’re right that for many of us Good Friday passes by largely unnoticed.
Keep up the good work!
You bring a tough argument, one that I cannot doubt, but one that I will argue before the one true God, WHY? did you make me?
Your ipod joke at Mass made me laugh a lot…honestly, Father, you don’t think God will give me *some* credit for the Justin Timberlake music on my player? Gee…or maybe all the J.S. Bach? Just maybe? 🙂