However, I am having some difficulty understanding how we Catholics are to make sense of the Catholic belief that:
“Christ suffered the scourging at the pillar to make reparation for our sins of the flesh,”
“Christ suffered the humiliation of the crowning with thorns to make reparation for our pride”…
without taking some sort of the penal substitution approach.
Because the Catholic view affirms this, but goes BEYOND IT as well.
Christ took upon Himself our nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. But how?
The best way to think of this is to ask yourself WHY DID Christ take upon Himself our human nature?
Hopefully your knee-jerk answer to yourself will be . . .“To die for our sins”.
And that would be true.
But if you STOP there your answer would be incomplete.
To die for our sins to be sure. But also so we might know God’s love.
**But wait! There’s MORE! **
Jesus came to be an EXAMPLE for us.
And even more . . . .
Jesus came to “Divinize” mankind. Divinize us in the sense that we are gy grace, partakers of His very nature. In one sense, we are not Gods, but in another sense we are partakers of the very nature of God (by grace).
Here is how St. Peter sums up that last point . . . .
2nd PETER 1:3-4 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.
The CCC unpacks these 4 aspects this way (italics original) . . . .
**I. WHY DID THE WORD BECOME FLESH? **
CCC 456 With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”
CCC 457 The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who “loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins”: “the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world”, and “he was revealed to take away sins”:70
[INDENT]Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?71
CCC 458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."72 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."73
CCC 459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me."74 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: "Listen to him!"75 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: "Love one another as I have loved you."76 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.77
CCC 460 The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature”:78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81 [/INDENT]
(For the appropriate Bible verses lookup the footnotes within the CCC and go to the corresponding verses.)
]Jesus. Our expiation for our sins, reconciling us with God.
]Jesus. So that we might know God’s love.
]Jesus our model of holiness.
]Jesus makes us, partakers of the divine nature.
Hope this all helps.