… looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

For He is the author [pioneer] of faith in two ways: first, by teaching it by word: ‘He has spoken to us by His Son’ (Heb. 1:2); ‘The only begotten, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him’ (Jn. 1:18);

Secondly, by impressing it on the heart: ‘Unto you it is given for Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him’ (Phil 1:29).

Likewise, He is the finisher [perfecter] of our faith in two ways: in one way by confirming it through miracles: ‘If you do not believe me, believe the works’ (Jn. 10:32);

And in another way by rewarding faith. For since faith is imperfect knowledge, its reward consists in perfectly understanding it: ‘I will love him and will manifest myself to him’ (Jn. 14:21).

This was signified by Zechariah (4:9) where it says: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of his house,’ namely, the Church, whose foundation is faith, ‘and his hands shall finish it.’

For the hands of Christ, Who descended from Zerubbabel, founded the Church and will finish the faith in glory: ‘We see now through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face’ (1 Cor. 13:12);

‘Contemplation is the reward of faith, by which reward our hearts are cleansed through faith,’ as is says in Acts (15:9): ‘purifying their hearts by faith.’ (Augustine, On the Trinity, c. 10).

Three things should be considered in the passion of Christ: first, what He despised; secondly, what He endured; thirdly, what he merited.

As to the first he says, ‘who for the joy set before him endured the cross.’ That joy was earthly joy, for which He was sought by the crowd, when they wished to make Him king; but He scorned it by fleeing into the mountain (Jn. 6:15); […] For having set before him the joy of eternal life as a reward, he endured the cross.

This is the second thing He endured, namely, the cross: ‘He humbled himself, being made obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross’ (Phil 2:8).

In this is shown the bitterness of His torment, because His hands and feet were nailed to the cross; and the shame and ignominy of His death, because this was the most shameful of deaths: ‘Let us condemn him to a most shameful death’ (Wis. 2:20).

In regard to the third, namely, what He merited was to sit at the right hand of the Father; hence, he says, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

For the exaltation of Christ’s humanity was the reward of His passion: ‘He sits on the right hand of the majesty on high’ (Heb. 1:3).

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): Commentary on Hebrews, cap. 4, lect.1.