Written by Sherry
Saturday, 22 March 2008 11:28
As an evangelical, I was clearly taught that Jesus' death on the cross was a necessity, that God has to satisfy his own justice had to be satisfied before he could extend his mercy.
It seemed odd at the time that God had to satisfy one aspect of his character which seemed, to my child's eyes, to be more powerful than He was, before He could express another.
This, of course, is not how the Catholic Tradition has understood it - because how could God be necessitated? God could have chosen simply to forgive us but he didn't. Why not?
And who better to hear from on this Holy Saturday but St. Thomas Aquinas over at Singing in the Reign.
Five Reasons the Cross was the Most Suitable Way for Our Redemption
In his Summa Theologica, St. Thomas gives the following five reasons for why the Crucifixion of Jess was the most suitable way for our redemption (III. Q.46, Art. 3). They are worth pondering during this Holy Week:
In the first place, man knows thereby how much God loves him, and is thereby stirred to love Him in return, and herein lies the perfection of human salvation; hence the Apostle says (Romans 5:8): "God commendeth His charity towards us; for when as yet we were sinners . . . Christ died for us."
Secondly, because thereby He set us an example of obedience, humility, constancy, justice, and the other virtues displayed in the Passion, which are requisite for man's salvation. Hence it is written (1 Peter 2:21): "Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps."
Thirdly, because Christ by His Passion not only delivered man from sin, but also merited justifying grace for him and the glory of bliss, as shall be shown later (48, 1; 49, 1, 5).
Fourthly, because by this man is all the more bound to refrain from sin, according to 1 Corinthians 6:20: "You are bought with a great price: glorify and bear God in your body."
Fifthly, because it redounded to man's greater dignity, that as man was overcome and deceived by the devil, so also it should be a man that should overthrow the devil; and as man deserved death, so a man by dying should vanquish death. Hence it is written (1 Corinthians 15:57): "Thanks be to God who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." It was accordingly more fitting that we should be delivered by Christ's Passion than simply by God's good-will.
As St. Augustine says (De Trin. xiii): "There was no other more suitable way of healing our misery" than by the Passion of Christ.
I remember how surprised and relived I was year ago when I came across a statement of Pope John Paul II that Christ did not die to satisfy God's justice but his father's love. I called Mark Shea and read it to him over the phone and he too was surprised but delighted.
Man Knows Thereby How Much God Loves Him.
O happy fault that brought about so great a salvation.