Choose a topic from Part 3a:

47. The Effecting Cause of the Passion

1. The persecutors of our Lord, intending to slay him,inflicted upon him what was sufficient to cause his death. Hence,these executioners actually caused his death. But our Lord couldhave prevented the executioners from harming him; by his divinepower he could have rendered them unable to do what they did, or hecould have prevented their action upon him from having any effect.He did neither. Therefore, he died by his own will. Our Lord says(John 10:18): "No man taketh my life from me, but I lay itdown of myself." That is, no man can take Christ's lifeagainst Christ's will. Thus, the effecting cause ofChrist's Passion is, directly and actively, the action of humanpersecutors and executioners; indirectly and essentially, theeffecting cause of the Passion is the will of our Lord himself tosuffer and die for us.

2. Our Lord died as man; he died out of obedience to God.St. Paul says (Phil. 2:8): "He humbled himself, becomingobedient unto death, even to the death of the cross." Theobedience of Christ atones for the disobedience of sinful man. St.Paul (Rom. 5:19) says: "As by the disobedience of one man,many were made sinners, so also by the obedience of one, many shallbe made just." The obedience of Christ enters into the causeof the Passion.

3. Our Lord suffered voluntarily out of obedience to theEternal Father who delivered him up to suffering. Now, our Lord asGod is one with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and exercises theone and undivided will of the Trinity. But as man he obeysthis same will, which is appropriated to the Father. He obeyswillingly, making his human will conform perfectly to the divineWill. With all this in mind, it is accurate to say that Christ wasdelivered to his executioners by the Eternal Father, of whom St.Paul says (Rom. 8.32), he "spared not even his own Son, butdelivered him up for us all." This delivering of Christ tosuffering enters into the cause of the Passion.

4. The fruits of the Passion came first to the Jews, andpassed on to the Gentiles, for Christ died for all. And, in thePassion itself, it was fitting that the Jews should hand Christover to the Gentiles (the Roman soldiers) for the completing of thework.

5. The persecutors of Christ did not know who he was.Surely, the learned rulers and leaders of the people knew hemust be the Messias, for they saw in him the signsforetold by the prophets. But they did not clearly know that he isGod. They would not even acknowledge what they did see; they turnedaway from Christ and his claims in anger, hatred, and envy; hence,their ignorance was not innocent. The common people did not evenknow that our Lord was the Messias. While they saw signs andwonders, and many did believe, yet the bulk of the people allowedtheir teachers and leaders to argue them out of accepting our Lord.This ignorance of the persecutors enters into the cause of thePassion.

6. The sin of Christ's executioners was the moregrievous by reason of the malice that marked their terrible deed.Yet even their culpable ignorance was some mitigation of theircrime, and our Lord made reference to it when he prayed:"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"(Luke 23:34). The Gentiles who had part in the Passion did not knowthe Law, and were therefore much more excusable than the Jews.

"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

* * *

"Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God."
Thomas á Kempis

* * *

"The supreme perfection of man in this life is to be so united to God that all his soul with all its faculties and powers are so gathered into the Lord God that he becomes one spirit with him, and remembers nothing except God, is aware of and recognises nothing but God, but with all his desires unified by the joy of love, he rests contentedly in the enjoyment of his Maker alone."
St Albert the Great

* * *