I. Human nature, as with all the universe, was made good, but is fallen.

A. As Genesis 1 emphasizes, God made all things, including humanity good. See also Wis. 11:23-26.

1. Men and women were made to be in the image and likeness of God, of all things in the material realm, the most like God. See Gen. 1:26-27; Ps. 8:5-9.

2. There was at creation original justice, which involved, among other things, a harmony of nature with humanity, an ease at prayer and friendship with God, the ability to do what is right easily, and a body not subject to death and decay.

B. The Fall of Man marred that original justice and introduced disorder into the world and into human nature.

a. Concupiscence, i.e. the difficulty in doing what is right, which is largely due to the fact that passions and desire are no longer fully under control. See, e.g., Rom. 7:14-25.

c. There is also a darkness of intellect, a difficulty of thinking clearly especially about primary things, which comes from the separation from God.

d. Furthermore, due to the separation from God and the flaws introduced into the natural realm, the human body became subject to death and decay. God allowed this death and decay both to warn humanity about the need to repent and to place a limit on the evils people could do. See Gen. 3:22.

II. From the very beginning, God promised a redemption, a promise that would be fulfilled in Jesus.

A. Right after the fall, before the punishments were given to Adam and Eve, God already promised one who would crush the serpent's head. Gen. 3:15.

B. In the days before Abraham, God established a special relationship with a few people as a first promise of the restoration of all of humanity. See, e.g, Gen. 5:24, 8:20-9:17, 14:18-20; Heb. 11:1-7.

C. God began forming the Chosen People with the call to Abraham, through whom God promised a people, a land and blessings for all nations. See, e.g., Gen. 12:2-3. The relationship with God came first, and the law would then be given. See Rom. 4.

D. After freeing the Chosen People from slavery in Egypt, God gave them the law at Mount Sinai, and then continued developing the law through the prophets during Israel's history. Even to other peoples God gave the natural law, indicating them in the depths of their hearts what was right and wrong. See Rom. 1:18-23.

III. Fulfilling these promises and the longings of humanity, the Son of God became man a little over 2000 years ago. Jesus Christ was and is true God and true man.

IV. The Incarnation of the Son of God joined heaven and earth together and glorified humanity.

D. It was by becoming man that Jesus saved us from our sins.

V. Jesus' public ministry showed the love of God and the path to heaven in various ways.

D. Jesus established the Church while on earth.

VII. Jesus Christ died upon the Cross to save us from sins through showing perfect obedience and love to God. This action of Christ's death upon Calvary gained for us freedom from sin and death.

C. A. One can speculate about whether we could have been saved by another means, but it was most fitting for salvation to come through Jesus Christ's death upon the Cross for several reasons. See St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Part III, question 46, article 3.

1. God's love for us was shown in the greatest possible fashion by suffering for us in this ignomious way. The sacrifice of Christ did not increase God's love for us, but showed it to us in the most powerful way.

2. This sacrifice hopefully inspires us to whatever sacrifices are needed for our own salvation and that of others. See 1 Peter 2:21.

3. There was a great balancing, insofar as the condemnation of man came through human sins, and so salvation was to come through a perfect human act. See Rom. 5:15-21. And the triumph of Christ was all the greater precisely because the devil seemed to have triumphed before it. The worse the seeming defeat, the greater the victory. Precisely because of the crucifixion, Jesus received greater glory. See, e.g., John 3:14; Heb. 5:8-9.

4. Jesus gave a greater dignity to humanity by achieving salvation in a sense from within, so that we were saved by one like us. And, in all suffering, we are joined more to Jesus. All innocent human suffering receives its final meaning by union with Christ.

5. The suffering of Jesus shows us the evil of sin. What the crucifixion and death of Christ did to His body and emotions, sin does to our souls. Jesus in a sense, therefore, became the image of sin for us that we may see its destructive power.

VIII. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ then restored justice and became the cause of our resurrection.

IX. Jesus Christ then ascended into heaven after 40 days and will come again in glory to judge all things.

X. Forgiveness of sins comes above all else through Christ, but he exercises that power through the Church.

A. After His resurrection, Jesus gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins. See John 20:23; see also Matt. 16:19, 18:18. When the Spirit was poured forth upon them at Pentecost, they would then both proclaim the truth to the nations, and administer the sacraments to confer God's grace. See, e.g., Acts 2:1-41, 8:4-17; James 5:13-16.

3. If received worthily, the Eucharist also gives cleansing from venial (less than mortal) sins and strengthens one against future sins. See Catechism 1394, 1436.

4. If Confession is unavailable, Anointing of the Sick also confers forgiveness of sins. See James 5:14-15; Catechism 1520.

E. Far from neglecting the moral law because God will forgive us, we are called to a deeper sanctity, knowing the price that has been paid for our salvation. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in Dives in Misericordia, paragraph 157, "In no passage of the gospel message does forgiveness, or mercy as its source, mean indulgence toward evil, toward scandal, toward injury or insult."

2. We face a choice between the freedom of the children of God and slavery to sin. To choose sin and not repent of it is to choose that slavery to sin. See, e.g., John 8:34; Rom. 6:16-17.

3. If one does not act upon faith, the faith itself will eventually collapse because of the inconsistency. See Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49.

F. Furthermore, if one is a citizen of the realm of grace, that membership implies that one will show forth that grace to others, by witness and by forgiveness.

1. The calling is, not only to live in friendship with God, but to bring salvation to the world, in part by showing God's goodness through our good deeds. See, e.g., Matt. 5:13-48.

2. There is a balance in that we accept the principle of forgiveness by showing forgiveness ourselves. See, e.g., Matt. 6:14-15, 18:21-35; James 3:13. But, as with God's forgiveness of us, that forgiveness does not simply mean leaving another person in sin, but rather acting to overcome the effect of sin in their lives. See, e.g., Matt. 5:6-7, 18:15-20.

G. God offers forgiveness to all people. However, each person makes the choice of whether to accept it and live in His light, or choose the darkness away from God. See John 3:16-20.