As we enter this most sacred time in the life of the Church it is necessary that we immerse our hearts and minds into the great mystery of our salvation.
St. Augustine, in his sermon below, calls us this week to see the true glory of the cross of Christ; that in it we may not find shame, but hope.
In addition to reading St. Augustine’s sermon, I encourage you to read the brief reflection I wrote just below his sermon and use the closing question for your own meditation.
Below is the second reading from the Office of Readings for Monday in Holy Week:
The passion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the hope of glory and a lesson in patience.
What may not the hearts of believers promise themselves as the gift of God’s grace, when for their sake God’s only Son, co-eternal with the Father, was not content only to be born as man from human stock but even died at the hands of the men he had created?
It is a great thing that we are promised by the Lord, but far greater is what has already been done for us, and which we now commemorate. Where were the sinners, what were they, when Christ died for them? When Christ has already given us the gift of his death, who is to doubt that he will give the saints the gift of his own life? Why does our human frailty hesitate to believe that mankind will one day live with God?
Who is Christ if not the Word of God: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God? This Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He had no power of himself to die for us: he had to take from us our mortal flesh. This was the way in which, though immortal, he was able to die; the way in which he chose to give life to mortal men: he would first share with us, and then enable us to share with him. Of ourselves we had no power to live, nor did he of himself have the power to die.
Accordingly, he effected a wonderful exchange with us, through mutual sharing: we gave him the power to die, he will give us the power to live.
The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.
He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins. How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself?
Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory.
The apostle Paul saw Christ, and extolled his claim to glory. He had many great and inspired things to say about Christ, but he did not say that he boasted in Christ’s wonderful works: in creating the world, since he was God with the Father, or in ruling the world, though he was also a man like us. Rather, he said: Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“[H]e effected a wonderful exchange with us, through mutual sharing: we gave him the power to die, he will give us the power to live.”
What a wild thought: God, who is Life itself, and therefore incapable of dying, took upon himself our nature so that He could die. He’s the only person to ever come into this world with the goal of dying.
But why? Why would God humble Himself to such great lengths? Why would He will Himself to such an excruciating death?
It is the extent of his humiliation that expresses the extent of His love.
In other words, the crucifixion of Christ is a historical expression of who God is in His Divinity: Self-Emptying Love.
And by sharing in our death, He has invited us to share in His Life.
Therefore, with St. Paul, St. Augustine, and all the saints, let us boast in the glory of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!
What is your reaction when you look at a crucifix? Do you see Love?
Let me know below in the comment box!