The cross reveals that each of us reject God; we reject love daily, this is what is meant by original sin. This rejection is built into the very structures of the society we have constructed. As McCabe states, “So the cross shows up our world for what it really is, what we have made of it. It is a world in which it is dangerous, even fatal, to be human; a world structured by violence and fear. The cross shows that whatever else may be wrong with this or that society, whatever may be remedied by this or that political or economic change, there is a basic wrong, persistent through history and through progress: the rejection of the love that casts out fear, the fear of the love that casts out fear, the fear that without the backing of terror, at least in the last resort, human society and thus human life cannot exist” (97).
It is important to note that Jesus refuses to take up arms, to resort to violence in the building of his new society, the church, which is to be defined by self-giving love, forgiveness, and the sharing of life together. Instead, he trusts in the work of the Holy Spirit. Yet, he was killed. Jesus on the cross represents the failure of human life. The cross shows us the reality that all of our efforts to love, to struggle against the oppressors of this world, finally end in failure, in death. We continue to struggle just as Jesus did out of obedience and love, but even despite some gains we will continue to fall short. It is important to remember that whatever the political significance of Jesus’ death may be it did not transform the world. Killers continue to kill. Torturers continue to torture. The establishment continues to oppress the weak and marginalize the poor.
McCabe notes that Jesus’ prayer to the Father is “to work through his failure” (100). “Before his death Jesus had tried, but in the end failed, to bring the Spirit of love to a small group of disciples; now through him the Father pours the Spirit through the world; by this the world is to be transformed into a community of love, the Kingdom of God” (100). Thus, the Father’s response to the prayer of Jesus is the resurrection.