The Goodness of Good Friday
Spiritual director Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications speaks to Miriam Gormally of Soulwaves Radio about what she perceives to be the serious inadequacies of the current and prevailing atonement theory linked to Jesus’ death on the cross on Good Friday. She offers a different interpretation of the meaning of Jesus’ death based on her readings of various theologians and biblical scholars.
She recalls the deeply disturbing impact on her of being told as a child that ”Jesus died on the cross for my sins and if I’d been the only person in the world he would have still gone through all that to save me.” She says that she could never accept the logical consequence of the belief that Jesus had to die for our sins as a sacrifice to appease the wrathful Father God. “It turns the Father into a bloodthirsty, vengeful being. I could never love a God like that. He would only fill you with fear.”
Turning to the Christ of the gospels she says it is clear that Jesus came to love and to serve. “His manifesto was one of life, not death – healing the sick, raising the dead, freeing prisoners,” she says, adding that Jesus way of dealing with sinners was to eat and drink with them, sharing with them the deep and compassionate heart of his beloved Father.
Pat Coyle believes that the truest atonement theory is that of at-one-ment. In the loving, self-emptying death of Jesus all human beings are united with God, in whose image and likeness they are made. In that light, Good Friday is indeed a ‘good’ day.