Blog # 318 Catholic Theology # 5
ADORATION / WORSHIP
A second goal for the crucifixion in addition to that of reparation for sin is worship.
Reparation brings forgiveness of sins. The action-prayer of crucifixion brings forgiveness of sins.
Identified as sacrifice it also brings worship, in the unconditional trust and total love called for in the Christian experience of death.
Since there is but one Creator of all that exists, God alone, recognized as that Creator, deserves the loving response of praise and thanks that adoration and worship gives. This is the content of the first Commandment. (Mat. 22: 37). "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart..." To offer such trust and love to anyone or anything other than he one true God constitutes the sin of idolatry.
Before leaving the upper room on the evening of the Last Supper Jesus said: "that the world may know I love the Father, let us be on or way." ( Jn. 14 31.) And He led them to Gethsemane.
As an act of worship death is seen as a unique opportunity to experience an
unconditional trust and total love for God. Jesus knew that in Gethsemane. He would be willing to suffer and die on Calvary motivated by His total love for the Father. However He also proposed in His prayer in the garden that if there were some other way He could be the Savior of all mankind without the crucifixion He would choose that way. (Mat. 26 39.
I do not interpret Jesus' proposal as a request He be spared the suffering of the Cross, but rather to have some way that would prevent the sin that would be committed by those who refused to trust and love Jesus and blindly saw in His death the punishment of a blasphemer rather than an act of worship on the part of God's Incarnate Word. Nothing other than death would be adequate to take away or prevent that sin. But also, the whole story of creation is about love and the victory of love over evil. And if love were not to be free it would not be genuine love. If we, along with Pilate, were to lose our freedom and be forced to make our moral choices by instinct or some other way that would take away our freedom, we would be reduced to the level of irrational animals.
That is not God's design for us.
The sin responsible for the suffering and death of Jesus was the greatest evil that ever was or ever could be. In the identity of the crucifixion as an act of worship it was the greatest act of love that ever was. Finally, once and for all, in the historical hour and experience of the crucifixion of Jesus, human and divine, the salvation of the world was achieved! In this unique action-prayer of God's unique Beloved sinless Son on earth , we have a unique worship of infinite value!