("Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas", pp. 79-82, 1937 Imp.)
THE PASSION OF CHRIST WROUGHT
OUR SALVATION BY REDEEMING US
St. Peter says, You were not redeemed with cor-
ruptible things as gold
or silver, from your vain con-
versation of the tradition of your fathers: but with the
of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and
undefiled (i Pet. i. 18).
St. Paul says,
Christ hath redeemed us from the
curse of the law, being made a curse for us (Gal. iii. 13).
is said to be accursed in our place inasmuch as
it was for us that he suffered on the cross. There-
fore by his Passion
he redeemed us.
Sin, in fact, had bound man with a double
(i) An obligation that made him sin's slave.
For Jesus said, whosoever committeth sin is the servant
of sin (John viii. 34). A man is enslaved to whoever
overcomes him. Therefore since the devil, in
man to sin, had overcome man, man was
bound in servitude to the devil.
(ii) A further obligation existed, namely
tween man and the penalty due for the sin com-
mitted, and man was bound in this way in accord
with the justice of God. This too was a kind of
servitude, for to servitude or slavery it belongs
a man must suffer otherwise than he chooses,
since the free man is the man who uses himself
as he wills.
Since then the Passion of Christ made sufficient,
and more than sufficient, satisfaction for the sins
of all mankind and for the penalty due to them,
the Passion was a kind of price through which
were free from both these obligations. For
the satisfaction itself that by means of which one
makes satisfaction, whether
for oneself or for
another is spoken of as a kind of price by which
one redeems or buys back oneself or another from
sin and from merited penalties. So in Holy
Scripture it is said, Redeem thou thy sins with alms
(Dan. iv. 24).
Christ made satisfaction not indeed by a gift of
money or anything of
that sort, but by a gift that
was the greatest of all, by giving for us Himself.
And thus it is that the Passion of Christ
By sinning man bound himself not to God but
to the devil. As far as concerns the guilt of what
he did, he had offended God and had made him-
subject to the devil, assenting to his will.
Hence he did not, by reason of the sin com-
mitted, bind himself to
God, but rather, deserting
God s service, he had fallen under the yoke of the
devil. And God, with justice if we remember
the offence committed against Him, had not pre-
But, if we consider the matter of the punishment
earned, it was chiefly and in the first place to God
that man was
bound, as to the supreme judge.
Man was, in respect of punishment, bound to the
devil only in a lesser sense, as to the torturer, as it
says in the gospel, Lest the adversary deliver thee
to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer
(Matt. v. 25), that is, to the cruel minister of punish-
Therefore, although the devil unjustly, as far as
was in his power, held man whom by his
he had deceived bound in slavery, held him
bound both on account of the guilt and of the
punishment due for it, it was nevertheless just that
man should suffer in this way. The slavery which
he suffered on account of the thing done God
did not prevent, and the slavery he suffered as
punishment God decreed.
Therefore it was in regard to God's claims that
justice called for man to be redeemed, and not in
regard to the devil's hold on us. And it was to
God the price was paid and not to the devil.
(3 48 4.)
Blessed be St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles!
The Papal Restoration Staff