The article “Does God Test Us?” “, About the Covid-19 (The cross April 24), poses the difficult question of retribution. Does God punish? Certainly, the reality of punishment is clearly expressed in the Scriptures. It would still be necessary to know what the words mean. The question is that of the relationship between God and events. “God made”, “God wills”, “God allows” … We feel that we are touching here on the very mystery of God.
The difficulty increases when we try to understand the link between the cross of Jesus and the punishment of sin. I once heard children explain that “Jesus was punished for us”… In some Christian circles, we easily use the concept of “payment”: someone has to “pay” … and, logically, “Jesus paid for us”. This recalls formulas like: “You will pay for everyone else. “ We are a hundred leagues from our faith in a God of love.
In fact, a careful reading of the Bible brings out a very simple thought, even if it does not solve the whole problem: man punishes himself! (…)
In fact, are not the plagues which strike men often the consequences of his sin? If by sin man departs from God, this distance from the beneficent action of the Creator inevitably makes him vulnerable and weakened, and the innocent himself suffers from the thing. Sin obeys its own logic and the sinner punishes himself: thus, on the road, a misconduct can cause a serious accident … and the hatreds which accumulate in hearts explain many wars. Likewise, a permissive society puts itself in danger. When Jesus announces in Jerusalem that she will suffer the misfortunes of war because of her closure to her message, he does not tell her that God will punish her thus, but he weeps over her!
P. Bernard Schnabel