It was not only necessary that God should become Incarnate for our good, but also for our removal from evil.
First, man is taught by it not to prefer the devil to himself, nor to honor him who is the author of sin; hence Augustine says: “Since human nature is so united to God as to become one person, let not those proud spirits dare to prefer themselves to man, because they have no bodies.”
Secondly, because we are thereby taught how great is man’s dignity, lest we should sully it with sin; hence Augustine says: “God has proved to us how high a place human nature holds amongst us, in as much as He appeared to men as a true man.” And Pope Leo declares: “Learn, O Christian, thy worth; and being made a partner of the Divine nature, refuse to return by evil deeds to your former worthlessness.”
Thirdly, because, to do away with man’s presumption, the grace of God is commended in Jesus Christ, though no merits of ours went before, as Augustine says.
Fourth, because man’s pride which is the greatest stumbling-block to our clinging to God, can be convinced and cured by humility so great, as Augustine says.
Fifthly, in order for free man from the slavery of sin; which as Augustine says: “ought to be done in such a way that the devil should be overcome by the justice of the man Jesus Christ, and this was done by Christ satisfying for us.” Now a mere man could not have satisfied for the whole human race, and God was not obliged to satisfy; hence it behooved Jesus Christ to be both God and man. Hence Pope Leo says: Weakness is assumed by strength, lowliness by majesty, mortality, by eternity, in order that One and the same Mediator of God and men might die in one and rise in other – for this was our fitting remedy. Unless He was God, He would not have brought a remedy, and unless He was man, He could not have set an example.”
And there are many other advantages which resulted above man’s apprehension, according to Eccles. 3:25: “Many things are shown to thee above the understanding of men.” (Summa 3a. q. 1. a.2).
Categories: The Meditations of St. Thomas Aquinas