By an Anonymous Writer
Homily on easter, 49-55 (From Glimpses of the Church Fathers)
This was the Passover during which the Jesus wished to suffer for us: to free us from passion with the Passion, to overcome death with his Death and to give us immortal life with invisible food.
This was the salvific desire of Jesus, this was his eminently spiritual love: to point out the figures as types and to give his disciples his sacred body: Take, eat; this is my body… Drink from this cup all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matt 26:26-28). Rather than eating at the Passover, he wished to suffer it, so as to free us from that passion we had contracted as a result of eating.
It is for this reason that he substitutes one tree for another. And instead of a perverse hand which had been stretched out impously, he allowed his immaculate hand to be nailed in a gesture of piety, showing himself to be the true Life hanging from a tree. You, O Israel were not able to eat of him; we on the other hand, with indestructible spiritual knowledge, eat him and we will not die (cf Gen 1:17; 3:4-6).
The Tree of Salvation
For me, this is the tree of eternal salvation: from it I am nourished and satisfied. Through its roots I deepen my roots; through its branches I expand; with its sap I am drunk; through its spirit - coming as a delightful breeze - I am made fruitful. Under its shade I have pitched my tent, and fleeing from great heat I find a refuge filled with dew. Through its flowers do I flourish, with its fruits I delight and I take them freely because from the beginning they have been allocated for me.
This tree is food to satisfy my hunger, a spring for my thirst, a dress for my nakedness; its leaves are the spirit of life and never fig-leaves (cf Gen 3:7). This tree is my protection when I fear God, my crook when I stumble, my prize when I fight and my trophy when I win. This tree the straight path and narrow way. This tree is Jacob’s ladder and the route of the angels, with its crown truly supporting the Lord.
This tree of a heavenly size, rises from the earth and reaches the heavens, squeezing itself between heaven and earth like an eternal plant, as a buttress of all things, as the hinge to the universe, as a support for the entire world and a cosmic link; which keeps together changeable human nature, nailing it with invisible nails to the Spirit, so that, as subject to the Divinity, it is not separated from her again…
The Chalice of Suffering
Although he fills the universe, the Lord got rid of his clothes to fight the powers of the air, naked. And for an instant he cried out asking for this chalice to be taken away from him (cf Luke 22:42), so as to show us that He is truly man. But recalling his mission and wishing to fulfil the plan of salvation for which he had been sent, once again he cried out aloud: Not my will but your be done (Luke 22:42). Truly, the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt 26:41).
As he fought a victorious battle in favour of life, his sacred head was crowned with thorns, thus blotting out the ancient curse on the earth and eradicating with his divine forehead the multitude of thorns produced by sin. After then drinking the bitter and acidic gall of the dragon, he poured out the sweet springs which flow from him.
The Lord wanted to destroy the work of the woman and to counter her who at the beginning had come from the side of Adam, as a carrier of death. He opened his sacred breast, and from it flowed blood and water, complete signs of the spiritual and mystical marriage, of adoption and regeneration. It has been written that, He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt 3:11): here, water as baptism in the Holy Spirit, the blood as baptism in fire.
The Two Thieves
Two thieves were then crucified with Him. They carried within themselves signs of the two peoples: on of them was converted through gratitude, sincerely confessing his offences and having pity on his Sovereign; the other, on the other hand, rebelled because he was thick skinned, showing neither gratitude nor piety towards his Lord and persisted in his old sins. They also are a sign of the two sentiments of the soul: one of them is converted from his old sins, strips himself naked before his sovereign and thus obtains mercy and a reward, through doing penance. The other one has no excuse, because he does not want to change, and remains a thief until the end.
When the cosmic battle ended, winning everything and for everything, the cross became implanted, without being raised like God or prostrated as man, as the end of all things, as a trophy of victory, carrying within itself a triumph over the enemy.
Then, faced with its long resistance, the universe was filled with wonder. The heavens were moved, and the powers, the thrones and the heavenly laws, quivered, seeing the arch-enemy of the great militia being laid low. Little remained for the stars of the sky to fall, on seeing asplay he who was previous to the morning star; and for some time the flame of the sun went out, seeing the great light of the world being darkened. Then the rocks of the earth split (cf Matt 27:51) to exclaim the ingratitude of Israel: You did not recognize the spiritual stone which you followed and from which you drank (cf 1 Cor 14:4). The veil of the temple was rent, to take part in the Passion and to point out to the true heavenly priest. By just a little did the entire world escape being crushed and dissolved by fright at the Passion: for the great Jesus had exhaled his divine Spirit saying, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46).
And while the waters were disturbed and stirred up by the apprehension of fear, when the divine spirit joined up again, immediately the universe found its stability again, almost totally enlivened, consolidated and with a new spirit.
In recent years there has been a growing awareness among lay people of the importance of Tradition within the Catholic Church. A primary source of this Tradition is the collection of what the Fathers of the Church had to say in Her early history. This selection of writings covers a wide range of topics, and is presented in easily readable units.
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