Why would a loving God have His Son die such a horrific death?

If there is a God of love, why did he allow his son to experience such a horrific death?

Was it to fulfill prophecy? If it was that still doesn’t explain why God allowed it.

Dear friend,

This is a good question because it brings us to the very heart of what Christianity is all about. From a purely human standpoint, your question sounds right on. But we are not dealing with a purely human reality here; we are dealing with God. What you are really asking is: if God is love, as we understand love, then why would He allow His Son to suffer such agony? The key here is “as we understand it.”

As so often I say here, God is not merely a bigger version of us. He is God, almighty and incomprehensible to us. That He would take on flesh and become one of His creatures for the sake of His creatures is beyond our ability to fathom. The very thing that seems to confound you is the very thing that shows us how His love is so far beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

We have no experience of anything that is without limit. Everything we know has a limit—except God. He is unlimited and His love is unlimited. The only unlimited phenomena that we have access to is the expression of divine love that is His Passion on Good Friday. On Good Friday God told us more about Himself than at any other time. He did not force His Son to suffer. Jesus, Himself, said: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it up again. No one takes is from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. ( Jn. 10:17-18) He knows that while we can’t comprehend infinite love, we can comprehend suffering because we have some experience of it. By seeing how much almighty God was willing to suffer on our behalf, we get some inkling of how extensive His love for us must be. His suffering was human suffering, but the love that it expressed is divine. So when we pray the stations of the cross, we don’t just thank Him for suffering as He did, we say: “We adore you O Christ and we bless you; for by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.” We adore Him because He is not just a human being, He is God.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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