"The Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all"
Eucharistic Adoration, tonight, 7-8 pm, SAA Church. Please join us!!
Anon asked the following: “How does Jesus understand the pain, the inner turmoil we feel (towards ourselves and those we've hurt) as a result of mortal and venial sin(s) we've committed? I grasp the concept that He understands the pain we experience when unexpected and unfair events that we have no control over occur. I grasp the concept that He can forgive our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but just how does He understand the pain we experience from events that are the result of our poor or wrong choices? He never made poor or wrong choices. He never committed any sins. Even His death was perfect. Can one truly empathize, be sympathetic or understand that which they have never experienced? If so, how? What do they use as a baseline for their understanding if they've never experienced the emotion or feeling?”
These are definitely good questions, Anon. The answers focus on the person of Christ. His Incarnation is itself a mystery, so any specific aspects of his experience is ultimately a mystery. But, the Church helps us to gain some understanding by looking at his person. Because he is fully human and fully divine, Christ’s experience on Earth transcends all things. As a Divine Person with unlimited power, he could enter into the full human experience with one thought and in the blink of an eye. The fact that he chose to experience this himself in his human nature shows us how much he desires to be in union with us.
How does Christ enter into full union with us? How does he experience every human pain due to sin? Scripture helps us to begin to understand: “The Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all” (Is 53:6). Christ had the guilt of our sin on his shoulders on Calvary. He was literally carrying the weight of the world’s sin on his back. He was carrying our suffering. Suffering is the result of the guilt of our sin. The Lord laid upon Christ all of our suffering. It has been said that Christ saw every sin that has been or will be committed from the Cross; we can say that he felt the pain of every sin that has been or will be committed.
The Catechism sheds some great light on Christ’s union with us in paragraph #’s 602 and 603 with some relevant Scripture passages:
Consequently, St. Peter can formulate the apostolic faith in the divine plan of salvation in this way: "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers. . . with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake."402 Man's sins, following on original sin, are punishable by death.403 By sending his own Son in the form of a slave, in the form of a fallen humanity, on account of sin, God "made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."404 (602)
Jesus did not experience reprobation as if he himself had sinned.405 But in the redeeming love that always united him to the Father, he assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin, to the point that he could say in our name from the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"406 Having thus established him in solidarity with us sinners, God "did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all", so that we might be "reconciled to God by the death of his Son".407 (603).
Also, Pope John Paul II expands upon this in his apostolic letter, Salvifici Doloris (1984):
…After the words in Gethsemane come the words uttered on Golgotha, words which bear witness to this depth—unique in the history of the world—of the evil of the suffering experienced. When Christ says: "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?", his words are not only an expression of that abandonment which many times found expression in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms and in particular in that Psalm 22  from which come the words quoted(47). One can say that these words on abandonment are born at the level of that inseparable union of the Son with the Father, and are born because the Father "laid on him the iniquity of us all"(48). They also foreshadow the words of Saint Paul: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin"(49). Together with this horrible weight, encompassing the "entire" evil of the turning away from God which is contained in sin, Christ, through the divine depth of his filial union with the Father, perceives in a humanly inexpressible way this suffering which is the separation, the rejection by the Father, the estrangement from God. But precisely through this suffering he accomplishes the Redemption, and can say as he breathes his last: "It is finished"(50).
One can also say that the Scripture has been fulfilled, that these words of the Song of the Suffering Servant have been definitively accomplished: "it was the will of the Lord to bruise him"(51). Human suffering has reached its culmination in the Passion of Christ. And at the same time it has entered into a completely new dimension and a new order: it has been linked to love, to that love of which Christ spoke to Nicodemus, to that love which creates good, drawing it out by means of suffering, just as the supreme good of the Redemption of the world was drawn from the Cross of Christ, and from that Cross constantly takes its beginning. The Cross of Christ has become a source from which flow rivers of living water(52). In it we must also pose anew the question about the meaning of suffering, and read in it, to its very depths, the answer to this question.