("Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas", pp. 84-86, 1937 Imp.)
THE PASSION OF CHRIST HAS
DELIVERED US FROM THE DEVIL
Our Lord said, as His Passion drew near, Now
shall the princes of this world be cast out. And I,
if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to
myself (John xii. 31, 32).
He was lifted up from the earth by His Passion
on the cross. Therefore by that Passion the devil
was driven out from his dominion over men.
With reference to that power, which, before the
Passion of Christ, the devil used to exercise over
mankind, three things are to be borne in mind.
1. Man had by his sin earned for himself
enslavement to the devil, for it was by the devil's
temptation that he had been overcome.
2. God, whom man in sinning had offended,
had, by his justice, abandoned man to the enslave-
ment of the devil.
3. The devil by his own most wicked will
stood in the way of man's achieving his salvation.
With regard to the first point the Passion of Christ
set man free from the devil's power because the
Passion of Christ brought about the forgiveness of
sin. As to the second point the Passion delivered
man from the devil, because it brought about a
reconciliation between God and man. As to the
third point, the Passion of Christ freed us from the
devil's power because in his action during the
Passion the devil over-reached himself. He went
beyond the limits of the power over men allowed
to him by God, when he plotted the death of
Christ, upon whom, since he was without sin,
there lay no debt payable by death. Whence St.
Augustine s words, "The devil was overcome by
the justice of Christ. In Him the devil found
nothing that deserved death, but, none the less, he
slew him. And it was but just that those debtors
that the devil detained should go free since they
believed in Him whom, though he was under
no bond to him, the devil had slain."
The devil still continues to exercise a power
over men. He can, God permitting it, tempt them
in soul and in body. There is, however, made
available for man a remedy in the Passion of Christ,
by means of which he can defend himself against
these attacks, so that they do not lead him into
the destruction of eternal death. Likewise all
those who before the Passion of Christ resisted the
devil had derived their power to resist from the
Passion, although the Passion had not yet been
accomplished. But in one point none of those
who lived before the Passion had been able to
escape the hand of the devil, namely, they all had
to go down into hell, a thing from which, since the
Passion, all men can, by his power, defend them-
God also allows the devil to deceive men in
certain persons, times and places, according to the
hidden character of His designs. Such, for
example, will be anti-Christ. But there always
remains, and for the age of anti-Christ too, a
remedy prepared for man through the Passion of
Christ, a power of protecting himself against the
wickedness of the devils. The fact that there are
some who neglect to make use of this remedy does
not lessen the efficacy of the Passion of Christ.
(3 49 2)
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