Well I've made it from Palm Sunday through Holy Week to the Easter Vigil to the glorious Easter morning. It's exhausting for a priest — this week out of the year that goes from celebration to deep dark agony on the cross to loud Alleluias all within a week's time. I think it's necessary though to feel those emotions and the exhaustion. Think about it for a minute — Jesus went from having crowds of people reach for him, cheer for him, beg him to heal them to a joyous entry into Jerusalem with cries of Hosanna to being mocked, spit on, beat, and the crowd yelling Crucify Him. He had the cross laid across his back that had been beaten bloody and forced to carry it to the place where he would be executed because he spoke truth to power. I can't imagine the pain he felt, the absolute horror of feeling completely abandonded by God. I won't even begin to equate my exhaustion to what Christ went through that week but I think for us, here, now it is necessary to remind us of the agony that he experienced and to give us at least a taste.
Do I believe that God required some blood sacrifice to satisfy some ranson? No, I don't believe in the ransom or substitionary atonement theories. I believe and the majority of the church believed in the beginning in the moral influence theory of the atonement. It was universally taught and believed by the Church Fathers in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Peter Abelard is one of the more popular theologians associated with this theory. It basically proposes that Christ was sent to teach us how to return to true worship since we had strayed so far away from what was intended. Christ came and lived amongst us, taught us, showed us by his example what God intended. Because we, humans, had strayed so far from God it angered those in power to be told they were wrong and so this put Jesus' life in jeopardy. Jesus understood this and while he prayed for the cup to pass from him (or that he wouldn't have to suffer and die) he understood that it had to happen so that the power of death could be conquered. Jesus taught us that the mandate the commandment was for us to love one another. He showed us how to do that with his actions by never returning violence with violence, evil for evil. Yes, this put him at risk of losing his life when he spoke that truth to the powers that be and so he was put to death to try to silence him. God raised him from the dead as a sign that death no longer held power over those who followed Christ and lived according to the new commandment of Love.
This Christ Love is what keeps me going through the exhaustion and emtional roller coaster of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!