Friday of the Fifth week of Lent
I have stretched out my hands all the day to a disobedient and contentious people
Saint Peter Chrysologus (c.406-450), Bishop of Ravenna, Doctor of the Church
Sermon 108 ; PL 52, 499
« I have stretched out my hands all the day to a disobedient and contentious people » (Is 65,2; Rm 10,21)
“I implore you by God's mercy” (Rm 12,1): Paul makes a request or, rather God, who would rather be loved than feared, makes a request through Paul. God makes a request because he does not wish to be Lord so much as Father... Listen to the Lord asking [through his Son]: “I have stretched out my hands all the day long,” he says. Normally, aren't we asking for something when we stretch out our hands? “I have stretched out my hands.” To whom? “Towards the people.” Which people? A people who are not only faithless but “rebellious”. “I have stretched out my hands”: he opens his arms, extends his heart, bares his chest, offers his breast, makes a refuge of his whole body to show us by this plea to what extent he is father. Listen to God asking elsewhere: “My people, what have I done to you or how have I offended you?” (Mic 6,3). Is he not saying: “If my divinity is unknown to you, do you not recognize my flesh? Oh see, see in me your body, your members, your inward parts, your bones and blood! And if you fear what belongs to God, why do you not love what belongs to you? If you flee the Lord, why do you not run towards the Father?
Perhaps the greatness of my Son's Passion, caused by you, covers you with confusion. Do not be afraid! This cross is not my own scaffold but death's. These nails do not fix sorrow in me but more deeply embed within me my love for you. These wounds do not force cries out of me, they draw you ever more deeply into the depth of my heart. The rending of my body gives you a larger place in my breast, it does not increase my torture. I do not lose my blood, I pour it out to pay for your own.
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