The Cross Exemplifies Every Virtue
From a conference by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Collatio 6 super Credo in Deum
“Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way:
- In the first place, as a remedy for sin,
- And, secondly, as an example of how to act.
“It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.
“If you seek the example of love:
Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. [John 15:13]
Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.
“If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways:
- either when one patiently suffers much,
- or, when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid.
Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because
when he suffered he did not threaten [1 Peter 2:23]; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. [Acts 8:32]
Therefore Christ’s patience on the cross was great.
In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame. [cf Hebrews 12:2]
“If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and die.
“If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death.
For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous. [cf Romans 5:19]
“If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords [Revelation 19:16], to whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [Colossians 2:3] Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink.
“Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves [John 19:24]. Nor to honors, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head [cf Matthew 27:29]. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink [Psalm 69:22].”***
Jesus Christ Crucified, have mercy on us! Guide us along the way of the wisdom of your Cross!
***This text is from the second Reading, Office of Readings for the Memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, Liturgy of the Hours.
Art: The Crucifixion with the Virgin and Saint John, Hendrick ter Brugghen, between 1624 and 1625, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.
Editor’s Note: Today, Good Friday, begins the Novena of Divine Mercy in anticipation of the Feast of Divine Mercy. Click here to read a brief explanation of the devotion and to link to each day of the novena, on the right hand side of the page.