When Jesus had finished washing the feet of his disciples,
he rose and resumed his place at the table and asked them a simple question:
“Do you know what I have done for you?”
There are several ways to take this
question which Jesus posed to us, his followers; let me suggest two.
What Jesus Has Saved Us From
The first possible meaning relates to what Jesus has done
for us by his sacrificial act on the cross:Do we know what Jesus has saved us
You may know enough to say,“Jesus has
redeemed us from the bondage of original sin,” but unless you know what the
lived consequences of this sin are, you cannot fully appreciate what Jesus has
saved you from.The Catechism of the Catholic Church spells out the nature and
effects of original sin in paragraphs 397–412. Here I briefly summarize this
teaching and contrast it with how Jesus has reversed the “curse” of original
sin. First, in the sin:
“let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and,abusing his freedom,
disobeyed God’s command” (CCC 397).
— Jesus trusted in God completely, even to death on the Cross, praying in
the Garden of Gethsemane, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
•Man “preferred himself
to God,” thereby turning his back on the Creator (CCC 398).
— Jesus, though he was the form of God, did not deem equality with God;
rather, Jesus lowered himself, taking the role of a servant (see Philippians
As a result of original sin:
•People are “afraid of the God of whom they have
con-ceived a distorted image” (CCC 399).
— At the Conception
of Jesus, his Mother was told: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found
favor with God” (Luke 1:30). — Jesus
told his followers, “I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has
killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five
sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten by God. Why,
even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value
than many sparrows” (Luke 12:5–7).
•The original “harmony in
which they [Adam and Eve] found themselves … is now destroyed” (CCC 400). — Jesus set the example of reversing this
disharmony, so that St. Paul would pray, “May the God of steadfastness and
encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord
with Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).
•“The control of the soul’s
spiritual faculties over the body is shattered” (CCC 400).
— Jesus’s death and
our incorporation into it at baptism restore the right order, as St. Paul wrote
to the Romans, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you
obey their passions. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness,
but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life,
and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no
dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace” (Romans
•“The union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions,
their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination” (CCC 400).
— Jesussaid, “Have you not read that he who made
them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a
man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two
shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What
therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4–6).
— St. Paul instructed
the followers of Christ that “the wife does not rule over her own body, but the
husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the
wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:4) and in an often misquoted passage he told the
Christian husband to love his wife “as Christ loved the church and gave himself
up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
•“Harmony with creation is
broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man” (CCC 400).
— Jesus commanded
nature and nature obeyed, both in healing the sick and calming the storm. He
told his disciples, “In my name … they will pick up serpents, and if they drink
any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick,
and they will recover” (Mark 16:17–18).
•“Death makes its entrance
into human history” (CCC 400). — Jesus
raised the dead and was raised from the dead, and promised eternal life to
anyone who believed in him, proclaiming himself to be “the bread which came
down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread
will live forever” (John 6:58).
Jesus has done for us will give us a greater appreciation of the Bread of Life
that we receive when we approach his altar at every Eucharistic celebration. It
is literally a matter of our life or our death!
LIVING THE E UCHARIST
Is your Christian life dominated by the fallen
worldview?Do you strive with the help
of the Holy Spirit and the nourishment of the Eucharist to live the new life of
the kingdom that Jesus offers?