Thursday, February 14, 2008

Christ's sufferings and my sins

You often enough read in books of meditation on the stations of the Cross assertions such as this: "I'm the guilty one, not Jesus. He is paying for my sins," and "I can't stand knowing that I'm to blame for this horrible scene." Theological, I understand the reasoning that makes these assertions in a sense true, but affectively, I always cringe when I read them. I understand that the weight of my sins and infidelities crushed Jesus and contributed to his death. But I find it hard to see a strict one to one correspondence between my current sins and the entirety of the crucifixion. This probably points to my own spiritual immaturity.

Or, perhaps it is this: It seems to me that, although all human sin contributes to the sufferings of Christ, it is mortal sin that causes his death. Since I am not conscious of being currently spiritually dead because of mortal sin, my affective response to these assertions reflects my assumption that I am in the state of grace and therefore in fundamentally positive relationship with Jesus. Does that make sense?

Of course, the weight of the cumulative sins of my entire life are certainly enough to have killed our Savior. Perhaps that is the sense of such statements.

Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Robert Gotcher said...

A reader, who was having trouble loggin in, e-mailed me this comment:
I remember Bonhoeffer treating a similar question in Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible.

How does someone who is growing in grace and virtue avoid a contribed sense of guilt, that undermines the joy that comes through faithful discipleship?

Coming at this from both ends of the question:

1. St Bernard of Clairvaux and his spiritual practice informs us that there is always a vice to be overcome and another virtue to be acquired;
2. The new life in Christ can be celebrated through simplicity and without obsessing about obligatory guilt as a definition of fallen humanity.