restricted access Lenten Lectures 13-18
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CATECHESIS XIII On the Crucifixion and Burial of Christ "Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"l "Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before his shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth."2 (1)' The Catholic Church glories in every action of Christ, but her glory of glories is the Cross. Knowing this, Paul says: "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."3 It was a wonderful thing for the man blind from birth to receive his sight in SiIoe, but what is that compared to the blind of all the world? It was a marvel beyond nature for Lazarus to rise again after four days; there, with Lazarus, the grace stopped; what was it compared to the raising of all men from the tomb of sin? It was wonderful that five loaves should supply food for five thousand, but what was that compared to the feeding of those famishing in ignorance throughout the world? The release of the woman bound by Satan for eighteen years was a portent, but more wonderful was the release of all of us held fast in the meshes of our sins. The glory of the Cross has at one and the same time led into the light those blind through ignorance, has delivered all bound in sin, and redeemed all mankind. (2) Do not wonder that the whole world was redeemed, for it was no mere man, but the Only-begotten Son of God lIsa. 53.1. 2 Ibid. 7. 3 Cf. Gal. 6.14. 4 CATECHESIS XIII 5 who died for it. The sin of one man, Adam, availed to bring death to the world; if by one man's offense death reigned for the world, why should not life reign all the more "from the justice of the one"?4 If Adam and Eve were cast out of paradise because of the tree from which they ate, should not believers more easily enter into paradise because of the Tree of Jesus? If the first man, fashioned out of the earth, brought universal death, shall not He who fashioned him, being the Life, bring everlasting life? If Phinees by his zeal in slaying the evildoer appeased the wrath of God, shall not Jesus, who slew no other, but "gave himself a ransom for all,"o take away God's wrath against man? (3) Therefore let us not be ashamed of the Cross of our Savior, but rather glory in it; "for the doctrine of the cross" is "to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Gentiles foolishness ,"6 but to us salvation, "foolishness to those who perish but to those who are saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God.'" For as I said before, it was not a mere man who died for us, but the Son of God, God made man. If under Moses the lamb kept the destroyer away, did not "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world/'s all the more deliver us from our sins? The blood of a brute sheep accorded salvation; shall not the blood of the Only-begotten much more save us? If any man doubts the power of the Crucified, let him question the devils; if any man doubts words, let him believe the evident facts. Many have been crucified throughout the world, but of none of these are the demons afraid. For these died because of their own sins, but Christ for the sins of others; for He "did not sin, neither was deceit found 4 Rom. 5.18. Though the sin of Adam brought the doom of physical death to man, the emphasis in this chapter is rather on the death of the soul, on original sin and the sins of mankind for which the sin of Adam paved the way. 5 Cf. I Tim. 2.6; on Phinees, Num. 25.7. 6 I Cor. 1.18, 23. 7 Ibid. 8 John 1.29. 6 ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM in his mouth."o It was not Peter, who could be suspected of partiality, who said this, but Isaia, who, though not present in the flesh, in spirit foresaw His coming in the flesh. But why do I bring only the prophet as a witness? Take the witness of Pilate himself, who passed judgment on Him, saying: "I find...