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Dear Fr. Joe: Why did Jesus have to die?

Dear Stupid,
    I hate your column. Your trite stories mixed with poor theological statements make me sick to my stomach. Please, for the love of God, stop writing.
    Sincerely, Mom

OK, OK, my mom didn’t write that letter. She would never write anything like that, primarily because that would leave proof lying around. All right, all right, I am kidding again! Thus, we plunge into the world of the unexpected. In our Lenten and Easter celebrations, we revel in God’s incredible and unexpected act of suffering and dying for our sins, then rising from the dead.
    God did the unexpected – He humbled Himself. He took flesh and walked among us. God the Creator gave His creation power over Himself and we put Him to death. That act was the ultimate act of self-sacrifice and it is one we must imitate.     If we wish to be Christian, we must imitate Christ who sacrificed so much for us. This imitation of Christ’s sacrifice is a challenge to each one of us. It is, at times, a painful and difficult thing. When we experience that pain, we must always turn again to the example of Jesus who wept in the Garden of Olives. (Matthew 26:36-46)
    Because God became human, He knows our pain. He knows what it is like to lose a friend to death or fear or even betrayal. He has been there, done that and offers now to walk with us when our self-sacrifice leads to suffering. But we also know it does not end there. Jesus rose from the dead and promises us that “if we die with (Him), we shall rise with (Him).” In the words of one of our deacons at St. Gerard, “Can you imagine how Jesus felt when He came out of the tomb?”
    No kidding! That is the way we can feel, too. When we sacrifice ourselves (what we want or think we need) and something in us has to die, we can count on the Lord who is faithful and true to restore us to life.

Why did Jesus have to die?
    Well, someone had to. Sounds bad? It’s true! The price of sin entering the world is death. Before Jesus, believers used to offer animal
sacrifices of lambs to God for their sins. These lambs would have to be without mark or stain or blemish and they were offered to God as a sacrifice for sins.  
    Another way to expiate sins before Jesus was to bring a goat into the center of the community. People would lay their hands on the goat and whisper their sins. When all were finished, they would send the goat off into the wilderness to die. (This, by the way, is where we get the term ‘scapegoat.’)
    Jesus came as the spotless lamb. He never sinned and he offered Himself up by taking upon Himself the sins of the whole world through all of time and history. His pure, sinless blood brought  forgiveness for all time and all people.
    Let's celebrate the mystery of our faith: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!”
Enjoy another day in God’s presence!

By Father Joe Krupp

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