At his crucifixion our Lord cried out "My God Why have thou forsaken me?"

A bit later he cries out again and in about that moment he died and there was darkness and earthquake and the temple curtain split in half.

Did the ransom go into effect at that moment or was it upon the shedding of blood when the soldier pierced his side? (Hebrews 9:22) "no forgiveness takes place without the shedding of blood"

Or was when Jesus returned to heaven "to appear for us in Gods presence"? (Hebrews 9:24)

Or do Catholics have a time frame different than these for when the ransom went into effect?


1 Answer 1


Catholicism does not necessarily believe that there was a single moment at which Christ redeemed us:

Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross [cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13–14; 1 Pet 1:18–19], but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:

  • already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty [cf. 2 Cor 8:9];

  • in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience [cf. Luke 2:51];

  • in his word which purifies its hearers [cf. John 15:3];

  • in his healings and exorcisms by which "he took our infirmities and bore our diseases" [cf. Mt 8:17; Isa 53:4];

  • and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us [cf. Rom. 4:25].

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 517; all Scripture references taken from footnotes to the passage)

However, the particular aspect of Christ's redemption of us which has to do with our ransom appears to have been fulfilled, that is completed, at the moment of his death:

The redemption won by Christ consists in this, that he came "to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt 20:28), that is, he "loved [his own] to the end" (Jn 13:1), so that they might be "ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [their] fathers" (1 Pet 1:18).

By his loving obedience to the Father, "unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfills the atoning mission (cf. Isa 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will "make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities" (Isa 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19).

(Catechism, paragraphs 622–623)

Along similar lines, Aquinas' Catena Aurea quotes Origen on the passage:

His ministry extended so far, that He fulfilled even in what follows, And to give his life a ransom for many, they, that is, who believed on Him; and gave it, i.e. to death. But since He was alone free among the dead, and mightier than the power of death, He has set free from death all who were willing to follow Him.

(emphasis added)

Thus it appears that our redemption, considered as a whole, is caught up with the whole of Christ's life and death; but his death is primary in ransoming us; so that it is at the moment of his death that the ransom was fulfilled.

  • Is it taught that the piercing of Christ and the subsequent outpouring of blood was necessary to fulfill the prophetic symbolic final sacrifice? Would that mean that ransom was into full effect at that moment instead?
    – Kris
    Jan 23, 2016 at 15:18
  • Not that I was able to find. I'll have a look around. Jan 23, 2016 at 15:19
  • @Kris It appears not. Paragraph 433 of the Catechism specifically says, for example: "When St. Paul speaks of Jesus whom “'God put forward as an expiation by his blood,' he means that in Christ’s humanity 'God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.'" That makes me doubt whether the "outpouring of blood" was in fact the vital part of the sacrifice. Jan 23, 2016 at 15:22
  • From USCCB commentary on Hebrews [9:23–28] Since the blood of animals became a cleansing symbol among Old Testament prefigurements, it was necessary that the realities foreshadowed be brought into being by a shedding of blood that was infinitely more effective by reason of its worth.@mattgutting
    – Kris
    Jan 23, 2016 at 16:06
  • @ Matt juxtapose the words of Jesus at last supper regarding the cup he passed with the contention that his blood need not have been shed upon his death
    – Kris
    Jan 23, 2016 at 16:51

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