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On the Charity of God in the Passion of Christ

Taken from Medulla S. Thomae Aquinatis which arranges various short texts from St. Thomas Aquinas' corpus based on the liturgical year. I will be posting the day's meditation each day and will be bringing it into print once I'm through it.

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Saturday after the First Sunday of Lent

On the Charity of God in the Passion of Christ

But God commends his charity towards us: because when as yet we were sinners according to the time, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

1. Christ dies for the ungodly. This is marvelous, if we consider who died and also consider for whom he died. For scarce for a just man will one die, (Rom. 5:7) that is, scarcely anyone will die for the sake of liberating a righteous man. Rather, as it is written: the just man perishes and no one else lays it to heart (Isa 57:1); and for this reason scarce will one die. For perhaps someone, that is, someone rare in his zeal for virtue, dares to die for a good man. It is rare, because it is so great; for no man has greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Yet what Christ did is never done, namely, to die for the ungodly and the unjust. That is why there is reason to wonder why Christ did this.

2. If it is asked why God died for the ungodly, the response to this is that by this God commends his charity in us; that is, by this he shows that he loves us maximally, since, because when as yet we were sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).

The very death of Christ shows God’s love for us, because he gave his own son that he should die in making satisfaction for us: for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (John 3:16). And so as the love of God the Father for us is shown by the fact that he gives his own Spirit to us, as was said above, so also it is shown by the fact that he gave his Son, as is said here.

But by the fact that he says, commends, he indicates a certain immensity of the divine love, which is shown both by his own deed, because he gave his Son, and by our condition, because he was not moved to do this by our merits, since we were still sinners: God who is rich in mercy, on account of the exceedingly great love wherewith he has loved us, while we were still dead in sins, has raised us to life with Christ (Eph 2:4).

(Commentary on Romans, C2.L2)

3. All this is scarcely believable. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. (Hab 1:5) For this, that Christ died for us, is so difficult that our intellect can scarcely grasp it; for in no way does it fall in the natural way of our understanding. This is what the Apostle says: I work in your days, a work which you will not believe, if any man shall tell it to you. (Acts 13:41)

For God's grace and love towards us is so great that he has done more for us than we can believe or comprehend.

(Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, A4)

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