Tuesday after Sexagesima
February 18, 2020
The Remembrance of Our Lord’s Passion
Meditation from Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas by St. Thomas Aquinas
Think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself; that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. –Hebrews 7:3.
1. We are advised to think diligently, that is, to think upon Him over and over again. In all thy ways, says Holy Scripture, think upon him (Proverbs 3:6). The reason for which is that no matter what anxiety may befall us, we have a remedy in the cross.
For there we find obedience to God. He humbled himself becoming obedient, says St. Paul (Philippians 2:8). Likewise, we find a loving forethought for those akin to him, shown in the care he had, when upon the very cross, for his mother. We find, too, charity for his fellows, for on the cross he prayed for sinners, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke xxiii. 34). He showed, also, patience in suffering, I was dumb and was humbled, and kept silence from good things: and my sorrow was renewed (Psalm 38:3). Finally he showed, in all things, a perseverance to the end, for he persevered until death itself. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46).
So on the cross we find an example of all the virtues. As St. Augustine says, the cross was not only the gallows where Our Lord suffered in patience, it was a pulpit from which he taught mankind.
2. But what is it that we are to think, over and over again? Three things:
(i) The kind of Passion it was. He endured opposition,* that is, suffering from spoken words. For instance they said, You, thou that destroyest the temple of God (Matthew 27:40). It is said in the Psalms (Psalm 17:44), Thou wilt deliver me from the contradictions of the people, and it was foretold that Our Lord should be, A sign which shall be contradicted (Luke 2:34). St. Paul, in the text, says such opposition, meaning so grievous and so humiliating an opposition. O all ye that pass by the way, attend, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow (Lamentations 1:12).
(ii) From whom He suffered the Passion. It was from sinners, from those for whom He was suffering. Christ died once for our sins, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18).
(iii) Who it was that suffered. Before the Passion, from the beginning of the world he had suffered in his members, but in the Passion He suffered in his own person. Whence the words against himself. Who his own self, says St. Peter (1 Peter 2:24), bore our sins in his body upon the tree.
3. To think diligently upon Our Lord’s Passion is a very profitable employment, which is why St. Paul adds that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds. The Passion of Christ keeps us from fainting. St. Gregory says, “If we recall the Passion of Christ, nothing seems so hard that it cannot be borne with equanimity.” You will not then fail, worn out in spirit, in loyalty to the true faith, nor in the prosecution of good works.
St. Paul again gives a reason for our courageous perseverance when he says, in the following verse, You have not yet resisted unto blood (Hebrews 12:4). As though he said, “You must not faint at these anxieties your own troubles cause you. You have not yet borne as much as Christ. For He indeed shed his blood for us.” (In Hebrews 12.)
* The word in the Latin text which St. Thomas has before him is contradictio.