At the beginning of this Lenten season I'm drawn to the work of the early Franciscan theologian, Bl. John Dun Scotus (c.1265-1308). Dun Scotus' insight is that the human incarnation of Christ in the person of Jesus is the work of God's plan from the beginning of time. This is formally known as the Doctrine of the Absolute Primacy of Christ in the Universe. According to Dun Scotus, sin was not the motivation for Divine intervention, instead it was God's plan of perfect love. In this way God is always and consistently acting out of supreme love and not merely re-acting to fallen human nature or using Jesus as the only worthy sacrifice of atonement to Himself. Dun Scotus' doctrine has become a foundation of Franciscan Spirituality.
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM has summarized Dun Scotus' understanding as: "Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God" or even more succinctly as "God does not love us because we are that good, God loves us because God is good."
Dun Scotus' doctrine appears to support Jesus' announcement of the in-breaking Kingdom of God (as something happening now, not just later, after we die.) If we see Jesus as being sent because of God's love for us, then the life of humility and love he lived was intended as the example for how humans are to live according to God's will. Ultimately, this means that the purpose of Jesus' life is not something to be in awe of, thankful for or worshiped at a distance but is how God intends us to live our lives.
So,the salvation Jesus offers us is, by his example and teaching, the proper way of living. His teachings on the greatest Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount among others and his deep compassion which prompted countless miracles provide us the pattern.for our lives. He is a living witness to the total love and humility of God.
Jesus faithfully lived and taught in solidarity with all of humanity fully sharing in joy and in sorrow and impacting all of those around him. God's love was shown in Jesus' solidarity with humanity that continued even in the face of chaos and the worst of human brutality and personal suffering; the experience of Jesus' passion and death. By Jesus' resurrection, God shows that His faithful love will ultimately transform humanity and allow it to rise above the worst of it's nature.
During Lent I will continue to reflect on God's redeeming love and the example of salvation that was Jesus' life, passion, death and resurrection. My own challenge of salvation, for Lent and beyond, is whether I can follow Jesus' example by allowing Christ to work in me and through me. Is my relationship with / love of God important enough and deep enough that I can genuinely be open to live like Jesus?