Today I returned from a short 2 day trip to a previous parish in Hythe, Kent. Yesterday I officiated at the funeral of a parishioner who had died of Multiple Myeloma, the same cancer as I have. We had kept in touch for the last year given what we had in common.
On Sunday evening I was passing through Gatwick airport and asked two train conductors about the best connections for Hythe. One of the men sneezed and the other man said “Bless you”. That sounded Catholic to me so I asked the man if he was a Catholic. “No” he said, “just a decent human being.” I didn’t query the matter further – he may have been a Christian of another denomination – but the impression that I got what that he considered it enough to be a “decent person”.
I thought about the matter for the following train journey and it occurred to me that our modern secular age is satisfied with being “decent” people but without reference to God. Jesus suffered terribly and died on Good Friday not primarily to make us “decent” people but to make us righteous: that it, right with God. He did this by offering the sacrifice of his life to make atonement for our sins. As he said in the Last Supper: “This is my body, given for you… This is the cup of my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins…” Only by the infinite merits of his death could this atonement happen. If we could be right with God by our own efforts at being “decent”, then Calvary was meaningless and unnecessary.
This is a most important truth for us Christians to appreciate. If we don’t appreciate this fundament truth of our faith, all sort of other distortions will creep in with regard to how we see the world. The sacrifice of so many martyrs down through the ages who died for their faith in Jesus – like today’s Ss Andrew Kim and Companions –was meaningless and unnecessary too.