Thought of the day
Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

Saint Maximus of Turin (?-c.420), Bishop Sermon 38 ; PL 57, 341s ; CCL 23, 149f "The sign of salvation"

Good Friday

Commentary of the day 

Saint Maximus of Turin (?-c.420), Bishop Sermon 38 ; PL 57, 341s ; CCL 23, 149f

                         "The sign of salvation"

In his Passion the Lord took upon himself all the misdeeds of humankind that afterwards there might be nothing to bring us harm. The cross is therefore a great mystery, and if we try to understand it, the whole world is saved. When sailors go to sea they first of all set up the pole of the mast and spread the sail so that the ocean may be opened out to them. In this way they make the shape of the Lord’s cross and, thanks to this sign of our Lord, they securely reach the harbor of salvation and escape the peril of death. For the sail spread to the mast is in fact the image of this divine sign, just as Christ has been raised up on the cross. Now this is why, because of the confidence motivated by this mystery, these men do not worry about gusts of wind and they arrive safely at their desired harbor. In the same way, just as the Church cannot stand without the cross, so a ship is weakened without its mast. The devil torments it and the wind strikes the ship. But when the sign of the cross is raised up then the devil’s injustice is repulsed, the squalls fall at once… 

A farmer, too, does not start working without the sign of the cross. When he assembles the parts of his wagon he imitates the shape of a cross… The sky, with its four directions, East, West, South and North, is also arranged like an image of this sign. Man’s form itself represents a cross when he raises his arms; in our bodies we proclaim the Lord’s Passion, especially when we pray with uplifted hands… This was how the holy man, Moses, became victorious when he made war on the Amalekites, not with weapons but with his hands lifted up toward God (Ex 17:11)… 

Thus, with this sign of the Lord the sea is opened, the land cultivated, the skies governed, men are saved. And I would even affirm that with this sign of the Lord the depths of the dwelling-places of the dead lie open. For the man Jesus, our Lord, who bore the true cross, was buried in the earth and that earth, which he had worked deeply, which he had broken, so to speak, in every part, made all the dead it was holding back to spring forth.