Twelfth Sunday – B

“The charity of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all” (2 Cor 5:14). Paul explains to the Corinthians that he is driven by Christ’s love. Thomas Aquinas interprets Paul’s meaning:  “(I (Paul) say that we do all things for you, because the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one, namely Christ, has died for all, that we ourselves should so live, i.e., for your benefit, that we are even dead to ourselves, i.e., we care nothing about ourselves, but about Christ and the things of Christ: God shows his love for us (Rom 5:8); Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Pet 2:21)”(Commentary on the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 183).

Thomas explains that as we have died with Adam, “… for as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive”(1 Cor 15:22).

We die to our old lives since Christ died to remove sin: “… all should die to the old life, namely, of sin, and live the life of justice: the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:10–11) (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 184).

As the Letter to the Colossians affirms, each person should regard himself as though dead to himself: you have died and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col 3:3). We die to ourselves as Thomas asserts: “Christ died for all: he died that we might live to Christ (1 John 4:9).” (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 184).

Our lives should be lived for Christ: “They also who live, namely, with a natural life, may now live not to themselves, i.e., solely for themselves and their own good, but unto him who died for them and rose again, namely, for Christ, i.e., he should direct his whole life to the service and honor of Christ.” (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 184).

Paul declared: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

Thomas teaches, “Everyone who acts takes the rule of his work from the end (the ultimate purpose). Hence, if Christ is the end of our life, we should regulate our life not according to our will but according to Christ’s will” (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 185).

Jesus Himself proclaimed: I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38)

Thomas points out: “Christ died and he rose for us; wherein two things are required of us. For since he dies for us, we, too, should die to ourselves, i.e., deny ourselves for him: Íf any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23). This is the same as saying: let him die to himself (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 186).”

We must also rise: “Because Christ rose for us, we should so die to sin and to the old life and to ourselves that we might rise to the new life of Christ: so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4). This is why the Lord not only said, ‘let him deny himself and take up his cross,’ but added, and ‘follow me,’ namely, in newness of life, by advancing in the virtues: ‘they shall go from virtue to virtue’” (Ps 84:7) (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 186)

Thomas reflects on Paul’s instruction on being renewed: “Therefore if then any be in Christ, he concludes from the foregoing that a certain effect follows, namely, newness in the world. Hence he says, if then any be in Christ, i.e., in the faith of Christ, or through Christ, he is made a new creature: for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love (Gal 5:6)” (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 192)

The change that takes place in a person is a “new creation”: For creation is a change from nothing to existence. But there are two kinds of existence, namely, of nature and of grace. The first creation was made when creatures were produced by God from nothing to exist in nature; and then the creature was new, but became old by sin: he has made my flesh and my skin waste away (Lam 3:4). Therefore, a new creation was required by which we would be produced to exist in grace. This, too, is a creation from nothing because those who lack grace are nothing: and “’… if I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Cor 13:2); Augustine says: for sin is nothing, and men become nothing, when they sin… So it is clear that the infusion of grace is a creation” (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 192)

Christ makes us new by grace: “If then any creature is made new through him, the old things are passed away. This of course was taken from Leviticus, where it says: and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new (Lev 26:10)” (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 192).

Thomas paraphrases Paul: “If all things have been made new, and according to the law when new things come, the old things shall be cast away, then if there be any new creature, the old things are passed away, i.e., they should pass away from it. But the old things that should pass away are the legal observances: so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit (Rom 7:6), and in the errors of the gentiles: the old error is gone (Isa 26:3); likewise the corruption of sin: we know that ‘our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin (Rom 6:6)” (Commentary on Second Corinthians, 192

Thomas recalls the words of the Book of Revelation: “When such things pass from us, the virtues contrary to these vices should be renewed: and he who sat upon the throne said: behold, I make all things new (Rev 21:5).” Denis Vincent Wiseman, O.P.

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