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Friends, on this Palm Sunday, Matthew’s magnificent Gospel of the Passion bids us to reflect on the seriousness of sin.

To be sure, the Gospel proclaimed by the first Christians involves the glorious Resurrection, but those initial evangelists never let their hearers forget that the one who had been raised was none other than the one who had been crucified. 

So the question was—and remains—why would God’s salvation of the human race have to include something as horrifying as the Crucifixion of the Son of God?

Here’s the point. The Scriptural authors understand sin not so much as a series of acts as a condition in which we are stuck. No amount of merely human effort could possibly solve the problem. Something awful had to be done on our behalf in order to offset the awfulness of sin.  

With this biblical realism in mind, we can begin to comprehend why the Crucifixion of the Son of God was necessary. The just rapport between God and human beings could not be re-established either through our moral effort or with simply a word of forgiveness. Something had to be done—and God alone could do it.