Choose a topic from Part 3a:

46. The Passion of Christ

1. If man was to be redeemed at all, it was necessary thatGod's plan for human redemption be carried out. This planinvolved the suffering of God-made-man in his human nature.

2. The plan of God for man's redemption is mostwondrous in every respect. Yet God could have willed to redeemmankind in some other way than by the Passion of Christ.

3. Still, there was surely no way more suitable forman's redeeming than the way of Incarnation and Passion. Forhere man sees how much God loves him; man has perfect and mostnoble example of all the virtues; man has grace made availablethrough Christ's merits; man beholds the evil conqueror of hisrace subdued and vanquished by One who is truly man.

4. For many nobly symbolic reasons it was suitable thatour Lord, dying for us by his own will, should have chosen thedeath of the cross. This mode of death was the most feared, and wasconsidered the most degrading. To show that the upright man needfear no mode of death; to indicate that no mode of death can sullythe innocent; to give full and final evidence of his love formankind and his hatred for sin, our Lord chose the death of thecross. And since he died for all, he chose to die in the open, onan eminence, with arms outstretched to all mankind.

5. Christ did not endure all forms of human suffering. Hewas not, as we have seen, subject to internal ailments, to sicknessor disease. His bodily suffering was externally caused. And bydying on the cross, he excluded other modes of fatal suffering,such as burning or drowning. Yet, in one sense, our Lord did endureall human suffering: (a) all types of human beings had part inafflicting him: men, women, Jews, Gentiles, friends, acquaintances,strangers, rulers, servants; (b) he endured abandonment, calumny,misrepresentation, blasphemy, insults, mockeries, despoliation evenof his garments, sadness, weariness, fear, wounds, scourgings; (c)he suffered in all members of his body, and in all his bodilysenses.

6. Christ's suffering was the greatest of allsuffering, the keenest pain. The prophet Jeremias (Lam. 1:12)foretold this fact in the cry: "O all ye that pass by the way,attend and see if there be any sorrowlike unto mysorrow." The external pains of the scourging, the crowningwith thorns, and the crucifixion, were manifestly extreme. And thesadness of his perfect soul over the sins of men was the greatestdistress ever humanly experienced. Our Lord's body was mostperfect, and therefore most acutely sensitive to pain. And he didnot permit study or consideration on the part of reason to allaythe bodily pangs in any manner. For our Lord suffered voluntarilyto win for man the greatest benefits; he measured his sufferings toaccord with their fruits. Thus our Lord's pain in his Passionwas the very greatest, the most intense, of pains.

7. When the body is ready by suffering to be torn from thesoul, the soul itself suffers. For the soul in its essence is inthe body and in every part of the body. And, since the faculties orpowers of the soul are rooted in its essence, these powers suffertoo in the suffering of the soul. Hence, Christ, during hisPassion, suffered in his whole soul.

8. Yet, despite the fact that our Lord truly suffered inhis whole soul, that soul had, throughout the Passion, theuninterrupted enjoyment of the beatific vision. There is noconflict here. Things do not block each other out unless they meeton a common plane. Thus, though love and hatred are opposites, aman may love God wholeheartedly and, at the same time, hate sinwholeheartedly. For love and hatred are not here on the same plane;they are not directed to the same thing. Hence, the wholeheartedsuffering of Christ did not come into conflict with the higherfunction of reason which was uninterruptedly fixed in wholeheartedfruition of the beatific vision.

9. The time of Christ's suffering was divinelyarranged, and hence was most wisely chosen. Our Lord did all thingsin their proper season.

10. The same thing must be said of the place in whichChrist willed to suffer. There is a manifest fitness in ourLord's choice of Jerusalem, the city of the great temple withits divinely prescribed sacrifices, as the place for his perfectsacrifice.

11. Our Lord who willed to be "reputed with thewicked" (Isa. 53:12) was crucified between two thieves. Itbelonged to the perfection of his suffering, which was thegreatest, that he should bear the insult and obloquy of beingpublicly executed with an ordinary group of criminals as though hewere one of them. The cross of Christ, with an unrepentant sinneron one side, and a converted sinner on the other, shows thedivinely innocent judge of mankind on the judgment seat between"those on the right, and those on theleft," thesaved and the rejectors of salvation, as the case will be on thelast day.

12. The Passion of Christ was the suffering and death of ourLord as man. We cannot say that the Godhead suffered and died. Itis perfectly true that he who died is God. But he is alsoman, in the unity of the divine Person of the Son. It is the divinePerson in his human nature that suffers and dies. TheGodhead lives, both in the body of the dead Christ on the cross,and in the separated soul of Christ in Limbo.

"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."
St Philip Neri

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"It is well to choose some one good devotion, and to stick to it, and never to abandon it."
St Philip Neri

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"The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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