Vol I No. 7
From the Quarterly

First Friday in Lent: Thomas Aquinas with Commentary

by William J. Martin

Filippino_Lippi_Carafa_Chapel_Triumph_of_St_Thomas_Aquinas_over_the_Heretics_05-1Thomas Aquinas and Commentary:

THE CROWN OF THORNS Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see king Solomon in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the joy of his heart. Cant. iii. n.

This is the voice of the Church inviting the souls of the faithful to behold the marvellous beauty of her spouse. For the daughters of Sion, who are they but the daughters of Jerusalem, holy souls, the citizens of that city which is above, who with the angels enjoy the peace that knows no end, and, in consequence, look upon the glory of the Lord ? i . Go forth , shake off the disturbing commerce of this world so that, with minds set free, you may be able to contemplate him whom you love. And see king Solomon, the true peacemaker, that is to say, Christ Our Lord.

Today we are called to shake off undue and excessive attachment to the external and visible world. Our minds must be emptied of and liberated from all that clouds our vision and distracts our gaze so that we make look upon the second Solomon, Jesus Christ our Lord and King.

In the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him, as though the Church said, Look on Christ garbed with flesh for us, the flesh He took from the flesh of his mother. For it is his flesh that is here called a diadem, the flesh which Christ assumed for us, the flesh in which he died and destroyed the reign of death, the flesh in which, rising once again, he brought to us the hope of resurrection.

Christ took on our flesh as one taking on and into himself the disease and sickness of man’s nature. And yet it is likened unto a crown for He considers it to be a jeweled and golden diadem of greatest value and worth the wearing. Falleness is a temptation to Him. But He will not fall for the temptation. Rather in human flesh he shall reconcile our nature and our humanity to God. He considers our flesh as a crown which He will gladly wear upon Himself, come what may. His persistent inhabitation of our flesh will mean that in Him we are being carried through the battle royale to find our true human nature once again. God alone in Christ can inhabit our nature and begin the process of recreation and redemption. He delights to wear the crown of our flesh and will invite us to wear the royal vesture also.

This is the diadem of which St. Paul speaks, We see Jesus for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour (Heb. ii. 9). His mother is spoken of as crowning him because Mary the Virgin it was who from her own flesh gave him flesh.

Suffering and death are taken on and into the hypostatic union of God and Man in one Jesus Christ. Suffering and death become occasions for the deepest dependence and reliance upon God. Only those of royal blood can suffer and die in proper fashion. Our Lord takes his royal blood from the Blessed Virgin Mary. She gives him royal blood that comes with the promise of a future kingdom. Suffering and death become part and parcel of Kingship. Suffering and death become the form and model for the new and royal life. Beginning with the soul and spirit and extending to the body, suffering and death are now virtues that bring a man to everlasting royal life promised to our Father Abraham.

In the day of his espousals, that is, in the hour of his Incarnation, when he took to himself the Church not having spot or wrinkle (Eph. v. 27), the hour again when God was joined with man. And in the day of the joy of his heart. For the joy and the gaiety of Christ is for the human race salvation and redemption. And coming home, he calls together his friends and neighbours saying to them, Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost (Luke xv. 6).

The suffering and dying Christ rejoices to see the day of man’s turning home to God. Man beholds his king hanging on a Cross and his journey has begun when he realizes that the rule of suffering and death must be shared by Christ with his friends that they may return home with Him. Suffering and death are joy and gaity to Christ who gladly suffers as a King for his people. Christ rejoices in that He is beginning to find the sheep that are lost. He longs for the lost sheep that are nailing him to the tree. Tomorrow, perhaps, they shall repent and become citizens of his kingdom. The good thief at his side is already turning and repenting, and oh what joy fills the heart of the suffering and dying King. And there shall be more. What exquisite joy is imagined in the heart of King Jesus as he hopes for the conversion of so many sinners.

2. We can however refer the whole of this text simply and literally to the Passion of Christ. For Solomon, foreseeing through the centuries the Passion of Christ, was uttering a warning for the daughters of Sion, that is, for the Jewish people. Go forth and see king Solomon, that is, Christ, in his diadem, that is to say, the crown of thorns with which his mother the Synagogue has crowned him ; in the day of his espousals, the day when he joined to himself the Church ; and in the day of the joy of his heart, the day in which he rejoiced that by his Passion he was delivering the world from the power of the devil. Go forth, therefore, and leave behind the darkness of unbelief, and see, understand with your minds that he who suffers as man is really God.

The Jewish Church has handed over its Lord and Saviour for death. But the King knows that his suffering and death are necessary and essential for every man’s future life. Jesus rejoices to be handed over so that His love in suffering and dying might deliver the world from the devil. He needed to be freed and liberated from religious people who stood in the way of the royal journey that he was making. This liberation is not bad but good. Now King Jesus can do the work that He must do without the bother of silly interference. For the King of love to give himself entirely to his people he must suffer the loss of himself so that last ounce of its passion might be poured out to God for man. Divine Love or Mercy is thus embraced by the King who then gives this love to all others. This King knows that the Divine rule of sacred humanity will cost his life and that of all others. What a joy to leave himself behind that he might reign as King supreme in the hearts of his citizens.

Go forth, beyond the gates of your city, that you may see him, on Mount Calvary, crucified. (In Cant. 3 .)

Let us go forth to see this King who is God and Man suffering the Law of His own making. Let us know that He desires to die this death that the sin which tries to dethrone him might be conquered. Let us see how wise this King truly is. For he captures sin, death, and satan and catches them up in the net of his love. He escorts them to their desired ends. How beautiful and how brave is this King who will do this work for us, that in Him we might become the citizens of God’s Kingdom.