Dante’s meaning of the cross

In paradise, the Cross is explained to Dante in a way not heard in churches. It’s not how God restores life, but rather was required by human notions of justice – penalty, payment, etc. It was not for God’s sake, a nonsensical notion, God being God, but for the sake of human myopic sight.

But with divine sight, it’s possible to see another dynamic entirely. It’s not the Cross that saves, but the incarnation. It fords the gap by rejoining humanity and divinity. It’s a renewal of human potential, enabling us again to participate in divine life, will, sight, love.

Divine grace empowers, not redeems, Dante sees. We can align with it to release innate capacities, rising not because we’re Christian but because we’re human. In high heaven, the eagle is the emblem for this. The bird was mythically said to see God, as is humanity’s natural joy.

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