Suffering & the Mass 3: The Need for the Cross

Present in every Mass across the world you will most likely see a crucifix. It may be a simple Cross or an expensive ornate one. The question is why did Jesus have to die such a death and what does his death mean to you in your current problem?

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In Luke 24, Jesus is walking with two men on the road to Emmaus shortly after his resurrection. The gentlemen were sad, disappointed; in a word they were suffering. They had thought that Jesus would restore the kingdom of God and redeem Israel. Though they did not recognize Jesus at this point on their journey, they were walking with God, talking to God, complaining about God. How ironic that these two men, in the midst of their suffering did not know that the one who suffered for them was staring them in the face. Jesus finally says, “‘O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and the prophets, Jesus interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 25-27).

The Question of Suffering

The question of our suffering begins with a more basic question: Why did God suffer? To answer this we must see the relationship between Adam and Jesus in terms of their relationship to God, the Father. The Apostle Paul sees a direct correlation between the fall of Adam and the victory of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:22,45: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive … Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”

Shortly after Adam and Eve’s creation they underwent an ordeal in the Garden of Eden. Created in the image and likeness of God, Adam and Eve had an intellect and a will. In other words, they could know a thing and act on it. In the garden, Adam and Eve were given directives and a choice. This ordeal that they would soon undergo, if successful, would complete their creation by giving them the opportunity to fully enter into the life of the Trinity through obedience and sacrifice.

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17).

Adam was given two commands by God: till and keep the garden and to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the consequences would be death. While Adam was immortal and would not die, his body “was mortal by nature, with a healthy, instinctive abhorrence of physical death” (Scott Hahn, First Comes Love: Finding Your Family In The Church And The Trinity [New York: Doubleday, 2002], 66). The punishment of death would not mean anything to Adam if he did not understand the gravity of death. Shortly after God communicated the above to Adam, Eve was fashioned from Adam, creating a spousal relationship. It’s implied in the biblical text that Adam, as husband, would communicate God’s commands to Eve.

This blog post is the third in the Suffering & Mass series, which was originally a chapter in Scripture and the Mystery of the Mass published by Emmaus Road Publishing. It is republished on The Great Adventure Blog with permission from Emmaus Road Publishing. We invite you to visit the blog next week for the next post in the series.


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Jeff Cavins

For thirty years, Jeff has dedicated his life to developing The Great Adventure, the visually engaging and interactive Bible study system that enables students to understand the chronological flow of Scripture. As the founding host of EWTN’s Life on the Rock, he has been recognized both nationally and internationally as an exciting public speaker who has a deep love for Jesus Christ and who communicates his zeal with clarity and enthusiasm. Jeff, his wife Emily, and their daughters live in Minnesota.

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