Thursday, September 13, 2012

Excerpt from the Homily on the Exaltation of the Precious Cross by St. John Chrysostom

The Crucifixion of Christ (
Excerpt from the Homily on the Exaltation of the Precious Cross by St. John Chrysostom (amateur translation)
Let us sing a new song, O faithful, to the righteousness of the Lord King, and let us confess, or better yet, let us hymn and glorify, and praise, and worship, and magnify the presence of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, and in hymns let us venerate and praise the honored and thrice-blessed wood of the Master. Come, O beloved, in song let us dance and praise in faith, and together with the Prophet David let us chant and say: “Let the light of Your countenance shine upon us, O Lord.” (Psalm 4:6) What other light is there, other than the cross of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, through which the world was saved, and those who believe were delivered from slavery to Belial, and the writ of our sins was torn apart? Christ is the countenance of the Father: “He who sees me, therefore, has seen the Father.” (John 12:45) The light, therefore, of the face of the Lord is the Cross, through which, as a a shining lamp, the world was enlightened, and the earth was shaken, and the rocks were rent, and the dead were raised, and the sun hid itself, and the heaven clothed itself in sackcloth, desiring to show the ungrateful and ignorant and denying Judeans that the Master and Creator was truly crucified in the flesh.

This grace, O beloved, I seek to praise rightly and I desire to approach the Cross, and being unworthy that I am, I tremble in my flesh and my tongue is silent, and my lips are paralyzed, and my thought within is slow to bear witness. How could I, the base one, rightly be strengthened to relate regarding the power of the precious and life-giving Cross? I speak, therefore, through a portion of God's grace which I understand, for neither are the angels strong enough to worthily praise this power. When the sign of the Cross is beheld, the angels worship, not the wood itself, but Him Who through it was willingly crucified in the flesh: Christ. Adam, through the wretched tree was condemned, and the new Adam, Christ our God, through the wood of the Cross has strengthened us. And the word of the Prophet was fulfilled, saying: “You have given a sign to those who fear You, who flee from the face of the bow.” (Psalm 60:4) The sign is the Cross on the forehead and hand of the faithful, and the bow is the error fashioned by the devil, from which the wretched ones are wounded by the arrows of thoughts with the wounds of sins. Come, O faithful, let us partake of the veneration of the precious and spotless Cross, for all living creation was seized with amazement, beholding Christ being pierced in the side, He Who is the Fashioner and Ruler of all, by the lance that pierced the blessed side, causing water and blood to pour forth as a spring that surpasses understanding, bearing the crown of thorns, drinking vinegar and tasting gall, having lots cast for His garments by the hands of the murderers, servants of the darkness and friends of the shadow, as each ran to receive his portion. The ranks of the bodiless angels were shaken. the heavens were seized with hatred. the light and radiance of the stars was extinguished. The great giant of the sun hid its radiance, and the air was filled with darkness. The day was transformed into deep night, and furthermore the radiant adornment of the temple was rent. The earth shook as if boiling, and the death were speedily freed from their bonds of the grave. The Thief dwells in Paradise through his faith and his word, and Judas mortally wounds himself by hanging. Peter is afraid to swear by the Master, and will not be saved from his error until he is driven to cry bitterly, and is cleansed from his sin.

The dragon of the abyss beholding these things, cries our wailing: “O my servants and my powers, the rulers of the darkness, who has plunged a stake into my heart? I am pierced with a wooden lance, and I am torn apart. My innards are in pain, my heart is sore, my senses are corrupted, and my spirit is in agony. I should not have numbered Judas with my disciples. I should not have picked up the wood of crucifixion. I thought that I would hold it within my hands, but now I am bound by it as a slave, and all those who I held since the first-formed man, I am compelled to disgorge.” Come, O beloved, let us cover ourselves below the wings of the precious and life-giving Cross. For the four ends of the Cross signifies that He Who was crucified upon it is God over all places, and has received all from the ends of the earth. Christ God was lifted up upon it, that He might dissolve the demons that infested the air, and made our passage to heaven unhindered, as our Savior Himself told us: “When I am lifted from the earth, I will draw all men towards me.” (John 12:32) And what more should I tell you? Hearken to the word of the Prophet: “The Lord shall send you a rod of power from Sion.” (Psalm 110:2) And because this rod is Christ, as Isaiah also said: “A rod shall go forth from the root of Jesse.” (Isaiah 11:1) Moses bearing this divided and brought back together the Red sea: dividing, that the people of God might pass through, bringing back, that the people of Egypt might be covered by the depths of the sea.
The Crucifixion of Christ, painted by the Fathers of Vatopedi Monastery (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful message ! Praise be to Him who is All and forever.