Monday after Passion Sunday
The Passion of Christ Is a Remedy against Sin
In the Passion of Christ, we find a remedy against all evils which we incur by sin. And by our sins we incur five different evils:
1° The defilement of the soul. Just as virtue gives the soul its beauty, so sin makes it ugly. How happened it, O Israel, that you art in your enemies’ land? . . . You art defiled with the dead (Bar 3:10–11). But all this is taken away by the passion of Christ, whereby Christ poured out his blood as a laver wherein sinners are cleansed. So, too, the soul is washed by the blood of Christ in baptism because then a new birth is had in virtue of his blood, and hence when one defiles one’s soul by sin, one offers insult to Christ and sins more gravely than before one’s baptism.
2° Offense against God. A sensual man loves the beauty of the flesh, but God loves spiritual beauty, which is the beauty of the soul. When, however, the soul is defiled by sin, God is offended and the sinner incurs his hatred. This also is removed by the passion of Christ, which made satisfaction to God the Father for sin, which man of himself could never do. The charity and obedience of Christ in his suffering were greater than the sin and disobedience of the first man.
3° Weakness. When a person sins the first time, he believes that he will thereafter keep away from sin, but what happens is the very opposite. This is because by that first sin he is weakened and made more prone to commit sins, and sin has more and more power over him. Such a one, as far as he alone is concerned, has lowered himself to such a condition that he cannot rise up, and is like to a man who jumps into a well from which, without God’s help, he would never be rescued. After the fall of man, our nature was weakened and corrupted, and we were made more prone to sin. Christ, however, lessened this sickness and weakness, although he did not entirely take it away. So now man is strengthened by the passion of Christ, and sin is not given such power over him. Moreover, he can rise clean from his sins when aided by God’s grace conferred by the sacraments, which receive their efficacy from the passion of Christ. Indeed, before the passion of Christ few there were who lived without falling into mortal sin; but afterwards many have lived and are living without mortal sin.
4° Punishment due for sin. For the justice of God demands that whosoever sins must be punished. This punishment, however, is in proportion to the guilt. But the guilt of mortal sin is infinite, because it is an offense against the infinite good, namely, God, whose commandments the sinner holds in contempt. Therefore, the punishment due to mortal sin is infinite. Christ, however, through his passion has taken away this punishment from us and borne it himself: who himself bore our sins in his body upon the tree (1 Pet 2:24). The passion of Christ was of such value that it sufficed to expiate for all the sins of the whole world, even of a hundred thousand worlds. And so it is that, when a man is baptized, he is released from all his sins; and so also is it that the priest forgives sins; and, again, the more one conforms himself to the passion of Christ, the greater is the pardon and the grace which he gains.
5° Banishment from the kingdom. Those who offend kings are compelled to go into exile. Thus, man is expelled from heaven on account of sin. Adam was driven out of paradise immediately after his sin, and the gate of paradise was shut. But Christ by his sufferings and death opened this gate and recalled all the exiles to the kingdom. With the opening of the side of Christ, the gate of paradise is opened; and with the pouring out of his blood, guilt is washed away, satisfaction is made to God, infirmity is removed, punishment is expiated, and the exiles are called back to the kingdom. Hence, the thief received the immediate response: this day you shall be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43). Never before was this spoken to anyone, not to Adam, not to Abraham, not to David; but this day, i.e., as soon as the gate is opened, the thief, having asked for pardon, received it. Having a confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ (Heb 10:19).
(Selections from the Exposition of the Apostle's Creed, A4)