Saturday after the Second Sunday of Lent
That the Passion of Christ Worked for Our Salvation in the Mode of Redemption
It is written (1 Pet 1:18): You were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled. And (Gal 3:13): Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Now He is said to be a curse for us inasmuch as He suffered upon the tree. Therefore He did redeem us by His Passion.
Man was held captive on account of sin in two ways:
1° By the bondage of sin, because (John 8:34): Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin; and (2 Pet 2:19): By whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave. Since, then, the devil had overcome man by inducing him to sin, man was subject to the devil’s bondage.
2° As to the debt of punishment, to the payment of which man was held fast by God’s justice: and this, too, is a kind of bondage, since it savors of bondage for a man to suffer what he does not wish, just as it is the free man’s condition to apply himself to what he wills.
Since, then, Christ’s Passion was a sufficient and a superabundant atonement for the sin and the debt of the human race, it was as a price at the cost of which we were freed from both obligations. For the atonement by which one satisfies for self or another is called the price, by which he ransoms himself or someone else from sin and its penalty, according to Dan. 4:24: Redeem thou thy sins with alms. Now Christ made satisfaction, not by giving money or anything of the sort, but by bestowing what was of greatest price—Himself—for us. And therefore Christ’s Passion is called our redemption.
Man by sinning became the bondsman both of God and of the devil. Through guilt he had offended God, and put himself under the devil by consenting to him; consequently he did not become God’s servant on account of his guilt, but rather, by withdrawing from God’s service, he, by God’s just permission, fell under the devil’s servitude on account of the offense perpetrated. But as to the penalty, man was chiefly bound to God as his sovereign judge, and to the devil as his torturer, according to Matt. 5:25: Lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer—that is, to the relentless avenging angel. Consequently, although, after deceiving man, the devil, so far as in him lay, held him unjustly in bondage as to both sin and penalty, still it was just that man should suffer it, God so permitting it as to the sin and ordaining it as to the penalty. And therefore justice required man’s redemption with regard to God, but not with regard to the devil.
Because, with regard to God, redemption was necessary for man’s deliverance, but not with regard to the devil, the price had to be paid not to the devil, but to God. And therefore Christ is said to have paid the price of our redemption—His own precious blood—not to the devil, but to God.
(Selections from STIII.Q48.A4)