Friday of the Passion of the Lord – 19 April
“When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last, he said: ‘Truly, this man is the Son of God!’ ” (Mk 15:39)
St Augustine (354-430)
Father & Doctor of the Church
Sermons on Saint John’s Gospel, no 2
“In the beginning was the Word, the Utterance of God” (cf. Jn 1:1). He is one and the same with Him; what He is, He is always; He is without change, He is being. This is the name He made known to His servant Moses: “I am who I am” and “You will say: I AM sent me to you” (Ex 3:14)… Who could understand this? Who could reach Him – supposing he were to direct all the powers of his soul as best he may to reaching Him who is? I will compare Him to an exile who sees his homeland from afar – the sea is separating him from it, he knows where he has to go but has no means of getting there. In the same way we want to reach that final haven which will be our own, where is the One who Is, for He alone is always the same. But the ocean of this world blocks the way…
He who calls us, came here below, to give us the means of getting there. He chose the wood that would enable us to cross the sea – indeed, no-one can Cross the ocean of this world, who is not borne by the Cross of Christ. Even the blind can cling to this Cross. If you can’t see where you are going very well, don’t let go of it, it will guide you by itself. So then, brethren, this is what I should like to impress on your hearts, if you want to live in a spirit of devotion, a christian spirit, cling to Christ just as He became for us, so as to rejoin Him as He is now and as He has always been. This is why He came down to us, for He became man that He might take up the weak, enabling them to cross the sea and disembark into the homeland, where a ship is no longer needed, because there is no more ocean to cross.
In all events, it would be better for one’s soul not to see Him who is and to embrace Christ’s Cross, than to see Him spiritually but despise the Cross. So, for our own happiness, may we both see where we are going and cling to the ship that is taking us there…! Some have succeeded and have seen what He is. It was because he had seen Him that John said: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” They saw Him and, to attain what they saw from afar, they clung to the Cross of Christ. They did not despise the humility of Christ.