Monday, October 5, 2009

The Connection of the Cross

The following is a wonderful homily by St. John Chrysostom. It truly is amazing how connected we are from the beginning when God made the earth and the first man and woman. In God and through Jesus Christ the Son, together with the Holy Spirit, we are truly brought together as sons and daughters to share in the love of our Maker, Savior, and His Spirit. Jesus paid our penalty, and lifted us up with Him on His glorious cross.

"Adam and Christ, Eve and Mary

You have observed His outstanding triumph, the splendid achievement of the cross. Now let me tell you something even more remarkable, the manner in which He gained His victory, and you will marvel all the more.

Christ conquered the devil using the same means and the same weapons that the devil used to win. Let me tell you how this occurred.The symbols of our fall were a virgin, a tree and death. The virgin was Eve (for she had not yet known man); then there was the tree; and death was Adam's penalty. And again these three tokens of our destruction, the virgin, the tree and death, became the tokens of our victory. Instead of Eve there was Mary, instead of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the wood of the cross; in stead of Adam's death, the death of Christ.

Do you see then that the devil was defeated by the very means he used to conquer? By a tree the devil laid Adam low, and by a tree Christ defeated him. The first tree sent men to the world below, but the second called back those who had already gone down. The first tree buried man, already naked and a captive; the second revealed the victor naked to all the world.

The first death condemned those who were born afterward, but the second death raised up even those who were born before. Who will speak of the powers of the Lord? Though dead we became immortal. Such is the great achievement of the cross. Do you now understand the victory and the way is was won?

Learn now how this victory was achieved without any labor or effort of our own. We bloodied no weapons, nor stood on the battle line, nor bore any wounds, nor saw any fighting, and yet we won the victory. It was the Lord's combat, but our was the crown. And since it is our victory, let us be like soldiers and raise joyous voices in song in praise of our achievement. Praising the Lord let us say: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?

All this was the glorious result of the cross. The cross is our trophy raised against the demons, our sword against sin, and the sword Christ used to pierce the serpent. The cross is the Father's will, the glory of the Only -begotten, the joy of the Spirit, the pride of the angels, the guarantee of the Church, Paul's boast, the bulwark of the saints, and the light of the entire world."

*Taken from the Office of Readings (p. 1660)

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