Friday, April 2, 2010
PASSION AND DEATH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: the homily I gave
The above is the Crucifixion, by Giovanni di Baronzio (Rimini, 1310-1362) a wing of a triptych, 75x24cm, (other wing is of Stigmatization of St. Francis.
Today, although it is not generally customary, I preached (briefly) at the afternoon Celebration of the Lord's Passion. I hung our little relic of the True Cross around the large, rough wooden cross we use and having laboured it up our mercifully short aisle I managed to get it into its stand. It left me a little breathless (I was also singing).
At that point I preached, trusting the Holy Spirit to help the few thoughts I had put together previously and make them minister. I told our little congregation that St. Peter calls the Cross a tree. Why? I suggested that he wants us to hear not only the Tree of Good and Evil from the Garden of Eden but more importantly the Tree of Life whose fruit our first parents were prevented from eating. He wants us to hear the Tree of Mamre under whose branches Abraham and Sarah ate with the Holy Trinity and heard the news of the end of their infertility. He wants us too to hear the Tree of Paradise whose fruit is born in all seasons and heals the nations. Too we can the Vine that is pruned by the Father. Upon this Tree Christ the Son, the Word made flesh, perfect Image of His Invisible Father offers to His Father a perfect act of worship, in His obedient, humble and self-emptying embracing of suffering and death. On the Tree of the Cross Christ reveals the Trinity and eternal mutual self-emptying of the Three Persons. He reveals how utterly 'loveable', how worthy of obedience and how humble is the Father. He offers in His humanity the worship of His Divine Person and becomes the only means to salvation for man. This Tree Christ changes by His Sacrifice into the Altar, the Throne and the Gates of Heaven.
I reminded them of what I had said last year how the Saints say that the greatest suffering Christ endured, that outweighed all others, was that a single soul might be lost. The cup He asked might pass Him by was the cup of rejection and the loss of just a single soul. Christ has opened the Gates of Heaven and He invites all of us in.
I invited them then to come forward at the veneration to kiss the wood of the Cross and with their lips to 'knock' upon the gates of Heaven and find them held open by Christ. I urged them to beseech Christ to plant the Tree of the Cross in their hearts that it's root might dig down and break the rock of sin and hardness of heart we all carry within so that the wells of the Spirit's living water might well up in us and we might bring forth the fruit God asks of us.
That, to the best of my memory, is what I said. I hope it will be of some help to you.
Labels: Celebration of the Lord's Passion; Sermon; Cross as Tree; Cross as Gates of Heaven and Throne of God;