Tuesday, March 22, 2005

That Jesus Christ was crucified

"dead, and buried at the time appointed according to the purpose of His will was not the doom necessary to His own condition, but the method of redeeming us from captivity.

"For 'the Word became flesh' in order that from the Virgin's womb He might take our suffering nature, and that what could not be inflicted on the Son of God might be inflicted on the Son of Man.

"For although at His very birth the signs of Godhead shone forth in Him, and the whole course of His bodily growth was full of wonders, yet had He truly assumed our weaknesses, and without share in sin had spared Himself no human frailty, that He might impart what was His to us and heal what was ours in Himself.

"For He, the Almighty Physician, had prepared a two-fold remedy for us in our misery, of which the one part consists of mystery and the other of example, that by the one Divine powers may be bestowed, by the other human weaknesses driven out. Because as God is the Author of our justification, so man is a debtor to pay Him devotion.

"Therefore, dearly-beloved, by this unspeakable restoration of our health no place is left us for pride or for idleness: because we have nothing which we did not receive, and we are expressly warned not to treat the gifts of God's grace with negligence.

"For He that comes so timely to our aid justly urges us with precept, and He that leads us to glory mercifully incites us to obedience.

"Wherefore the Lord Himself is rightly made our way, because save through Christ there is no coming to Christ.

"But through Him and to Him does he take his way who treads the path of His endurance and humiliation, and on that road you may be sure there are not wanting the heats of toil, the clouds of sadness, the storms of fear, the snares of the wicked, the persecutions of the unbelieving, the threats of the powerful, the insults of the proud are I there;

"And all these things the Lord of hosts and King of glory passed through in the form of our weakness and in the likeness of sinful flesh, to the end that amid the danger of this present life we might desire not so much to avoid and escape them as to endure and overcome them.

"Hence it is that the Lord Jesus Christ, our Head, representing all the members of His body in Himself, and speaking for those whom He was redeeming in the punishment of the cross, uttered that cry which He had once uttered in the psalm,

"'O God, My God, look upon Me:
why hast Thou forsaken Me?'

"That cry, dearly-beloved, is a lesson, not a complaint.

"For since in Christ there is one person of God and man,
and He could not have been forsaken by Him,
from Whom He could not be separated, that He asks why the flesh that is afraid to suffer
it is on behalf of us, trembling and weak ones,
has been unheard.

"For when the Passion was beginning, to cure and to correct our weak fear He had said,

"'Father, if it be possible,
let this cup pass from Me:
nevertheless not as I will but as Thou;'

"and again,

"'Father, if this cup cannot pass except I drink it,
Thy will be done.'

"As therefore He had conquered the tremblings of the flesh,
and had now accepted the Father's will,
and trampling all dread of death under foot,
was then carrying out the work of His design....

"And thus the very cry of 'Unheard'
is the exposition of a mighty Mystery,
because the Redeemer's power
would have conferred nothing on mankind
if our weakness in Him
had obtained what it sought."

From a sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great