(Source: "Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas", pp. 70-71, 1937 Imp.)
IT WAS FITTING THAT OUR LORD SHOULD
SUFFER AT THE HANDS OF THE GENTILES
They shall deliver him to the Gentiles, to be mocked.,
and scourged, and crucified. -Matt. xx. 19.
In the very manner of the Passion of Our Lord
its effects are foreshadowed. In the first place,
the Passion of Our Lord had for its effect the
salvation of Jews, many of whom were baptised
in his death.
Secondly, by the preaching of these Jews, the
effects of the Passion passed to the Gentiles also.
There was thus a certain fitness in Our Lord's
Passion beginning with the Jews and then, the
Jews handing him on, that it should be com-
pleted at the hands of the Gentiles.
To show the abundance of the love which moved
him to suffer, Christ, on the very cross, asked
mercy for his tormentors. And since He wished
that Jew and Gentile alike should realise this
truth about His love, so he wished that both should
have a share in making him suffer.
It was the Jews and not the Gentiles who offered
the figurative sacrifices of the Old Law. The
Passion of Christ was an offering through sacrifice,
inasmuch as Christ underwent death by his own
will moved by charity. But in so far as those
who put him to death were concerned, they were
not offering a sacrifice but committing a sin.
When the Jews declared, It is not lawful for us to
put any man to death (John xix. 31), they may have
had many things in mind. It was not lawful for
them to put anyone to death on account of the
holiness of the feast they had begun to keep.
Perhaps they wished Christ to be killed not as a
transgressor of their own law but as an enemy of
the state, because he had made himself a king, a
charge concerning which they had no jurisdiction.
Or again, they may have meant that they had no
power to crucify which was what they longed
for but only to stone, as they later stoned
St. Stephen. Or, the most likely thing of all, that
their Roman conquerors had taken away their
power of life and death.
(3 47 40)
Blessed be St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles!
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