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That the Passion of Christ Caused Our Salvation by Way of Satisfaction

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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Wednesday after the Second Sunday of Lent

That the Passion of Christ Caused Our Salvation by Way of Satisfaction

He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

I. He properly atones for an offense who offers something which the offended one loves equally, or even more than he detested the offense. But by suffering out of love and obedience, Christ gave more to God than was required to compensate for the offense of the whole human race. First of all, because of the exceeding charity from which He suffered; second, on account of the dignity of His life which He laid down in atonement, for it was the life of one who was God and man; third, on account of the extent of the Passion, and the greatness of the grief endured. And therefore Christ’s Passion was not only a sufficient but a superabundant atonement for the sins of the human race.

Indeed, it seems to be that the same one must satisfy, who is the one to sin; but the head and members are as one mystic person, and therefore Christ’s satisfaction belongs to all the faithful as being His members. Also, in so far as any two men are one in charity, the one can atone for the other.


II. Yet, although by his death Christ made sufficient satisfaction for original sin, it is not unreasonable that the penalties resulting from original sin still remain in all, even in those who have become participators in Christ’s redemption. It was fitting and profitable that the punishment should remain after the guilt had been removed.

1° The faithful might be conformed to Christ, as members to their head. Therefore, just as Christ bore many sufferings before entering into everlasting glory, so was it fitting that his faithful should suffer before attaining to immortality. Thus they bear in themselves the emblems of Christ’s suffering, that they may obtain the likeness of his glory.

2° Second, if man were to become immune from death and suffering as soon as he comes to Christ, many would come to him for the sake of these advantages of the body rather than for the sake of the good of the soul. This is against Christ’s purpose, since he came into the world to draw men away from the love of bodily goods to spiritual things.

3° If men became impassible and immortal as soon as they came to Christ, they would be compelled, in a sense, to believe in Christ; this would diminish the merit of faith.


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