Meditations for Each Day of Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas
Monday After the Second Sunday
It was fitting that our Lord should suffer at the hands of the Gentiles
They shall deliver Him to the Gentiles to be mocked., and scourged and crucified.–Matt. xx. 19.
In the very manner of the Passion of Our Lord its effects are foreshadowed. In the first place, the Passion of Our Lord had for its effect the salvation of Jews, many of whom were baptised in His death.
Secondly, by the preaching of these Jews, the effects of the Passion passed to the Gentiles also. There was thus a certain fitness in Our Lord’s Passion beginning with the Jews and then, the Jews handing Him on, that it should be completed at the hands of the Gentiles.
To show the abundance of the love which moved Him to suffer, Christ, on the very cross, asked mercy for His tormentors. And since He wished that Jew and Gentile alike should realise this truth about His love, so He wished that both should have a share in making Him suffer.
It was the Jews and not the Gentiles who offered the figurative sacrifices of the Old Law. The Passion of Christ was an offering through sacrifice, inasmuch as Christ underwent death by His own will moved by charity. But in so far as those who put him to death were concerned, they were not offering a sacrifice but committing a sin.
When the Jews declared, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death (John xix. 31), they may have had many things in mind. It was not lawful for them to put anyone to death on account of the holiness of the feast they had begun to keep. Perhaps they wished Christ to be killed not as a transgressor of their own law but as an enemy of the state, because He had made Himself a king, a charge concerning which they had no jurisdiction. Or again, they may have meant that they had no power to crucify which was what they longed for but only to stone, as they later stoned St. Stephen. Or, the most likely thing of all, that their Roman conquerors had taken away their power of life and death.