In his L’Année Liturgique – The Liturgical Year – the great Dom Guéranger, 19th century abbot of Solesmes, notes that Holy Thursday’s praying of the fifth psalm conveys a “moral teaching, which, if listened to, would correct many a false judgment of the world. It often happens that men are shaken at seeing the wicked prosperous, and the virtuous afflicted. It was the temptation which overcame the apostles, when, seeing their divine Master in the hands of His enemies, they lost their faith in Him as the Messias.”
In other words, even after having witnessed the miracles of Our Lord and professing to recognize Him as the Messiah the Apostles nevertheless “lost faith in Jesus” after He had fallen into the hands of His enemies.
Does this mean that in our own day as we witness the Mystical Body of Christ undergo a similar passion, we too can expect to be scandalized to that extent? Might we in our fear and weakness also come to deny the Church and even flee from her when she falls into the hands of the Christophobes?
In answer to the question: “Whether it was necessary for Christ to rise again?” (Q.53, art. 1), St. Thomas Aquinas writes as follows:
(It behooved Christ to rise again, for five reasons: First of all, for the commendation of Divine Justice, to which it belongs to exalt those who humble themselves for God’s sake, according to Luke 1,52: “He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.” Consequently, because Christ humbled Himself even unto the death of the Cross, from love and obedience to God, it behooved Him to be lifted up by God unto a glorious Resurrection; hence, it is said in His Person (Psalm 138.2): “Thou hast known (i.e., approved) My sitting down (i.e., My humiliation and Passion) and my rising up (i.e., My glorification in the Resurrection)…”
Secondly, for our instruction in the Faith, since our belief in Christ’s Divinity is confirmed by His rising again, because, according to 2 Cor. 13,14, “although He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the Power of God”. And it is therefore written (1 Cor. 15,14): “If Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and our faith is also vain;” and Psalm 29.10: “What profit is there in My Blood (that is, in the shedding of My Blood), while I go down (as by various degrees of evils) into corruption?” As though He were to answer: “None.” “For if I do not at once rise again, but My body be corrupted, I shall preach to no one, I shall gain no one,” as the Gloss expounds.
History and Scripture show that ever since Adam and Eve men tend to want a God cut down to their own size: a God fashioned in their own likeness. What they don’t want is a God of infinite perfection who asks them to rise above themselves, above concupiscence and self-love, and strive to be perfect, even as their heavenly Father is perfect.
Men who have a strong tendency to be this way are likely to have difficulty also with the mystery of the Incarnation. Their hearts find it intolerable that an Infinite God should so love the world as to give His only-begotten Son to die in torments for love of us. You understand that what makes this intolerable is the implied obligation of making a like return of love; of putting off the “old Adam” and conforming oneself to Christ the new Adam.