Meditations for Each Day of Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas
Saturday After the Third Sunday
The Passion of Christ Reconciles us to God
We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.–Rom. v. 10
The Passion of Christ brought about our reconciliation to God in two ways.
1. It removed the sin that had made the human race God’s enemy, as it says in Holy Scripture, To God the wicked and his wickedness are alike hateful (Wis. xiv. 9), and again, Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity (Ps. v. 7).
Secondly, the Passion was a sacrifice most acceptable to God. It is in fact the peculiar effect of sacrifice to be itself a thing by which God is placated: just as a man remits offences done against him for the sake of some acknowledgment, pleasing to him, which is made. Whence it is said, If the Lord stir thee up against me, let him accept of sacrifice (1 Kings xxvi. 19). Likewise, the voluntary suffering of Christ was so good a thing in itself, that for the sake of this good thing found in human nature, God was pleased beyond the totality of offences committed by all mankind, as far as concerns all those who are linked to Christ in His suffering by faith and by charity.
When we say that the Passion of Christ reconciled us to God we do not mean that God began to love us all over again, for it is written, I have loved thee with an everlasting love (Jer. xxxi. 3). We mean that by the Passion the cause of the hatred was taken away, on the one hand by the removal of the sin, on the other hand by the compensation of a good that was more than acceptable.
2. As far as those who slew Our Lord were concerned the Passion was indeed a cause of wrath.
But the love of Christ suffering was greater than the wickedness of those who caused Him to suffer. And therefore the Passion of Christ was more powerful in reconciling to God the whole human race, than in moving God to anger.
God’s love for us is shown by what it does for us. God is said to love some men because He gives them a share in His own goodness, in that vision of His very essence from which there follows this that we live with Him, in His company, as His friends, for it is in that delightful condition of things that happiness (beatitude) consists.
God is then said to love those whom He admits to that vision, either by giving them the vision directly or by giving them what will bring them to the vision as when he gives the Holy Spirit as a pledge of the vision.
It was from this sharing in the divine goodness, from this vision of God’s very essence, that man, by sin, had been removed, and it is in this sense that we speak of man as deprived of God’s love.
And inasmuch as Christ, making satisfaction for us by His Passion, brought it about that men were admitted to the vision of God, therefore it is that Christ is said to have reconciled us to God.