Let the Earth Tremble

From “Sermon 15, On the Passion”, 3 (ca. 461)

Those who have a true devotion to the passion of the Lord must so contemplate Jesus on the cross with the eyes of their heart that they identify themselves with his flesh. Let the earth trembles when its Redeemer is put to death; let the rocks of faithless hearts be split open; and let those who are imprisoned in the sepulchres of their mortality push off the tombstones that imprison them, and leap forth. May signs of our future resurrection appear today in the holy city, that is, the Church of God, and hearts experience that which our bodies will one day undergo.

The victory of the cross is denied to none of the weak; there is no one on earth who cannot be helped by the prayer of Christ. For if his prayer aided those who insisted on raging against him, how much more will it aid those who turn to him in love? Ignorance has been banished, difficulties have been eased, and the sacred blood of Christ has extinguished the flaming sword of the cherubim which has blocked the path to life. Christian people everywhere are invited to share the riches of paradise. The road home to that lost country from which we have been in exile is now made plain to all who have been reborn. The way lies open before us all; it was opened even to a thief, and can only be closed through our own fault.

So my dear people, as we celebrate this profound mystery of our redemption, let us acknowledge in the teaching of God’s Spirit, the glory we are called to share, and the hope into which we have entered. We must not allow the activities of our life to fill us either with anxiety or pride.

St. Leo the Great (ca. 400-461) was a Roman cleric and theologian. He served as a diplomat for the papal court and became Bishop of Rome in 440, exercising pastoral care during the depredations of the Huns and the Vandals. His Tome, a clear defense of the teaching that the one person of Christ has two natures, divine and human, was adopted by the Council of Chalcedon as a crucial marker of orthodoxy. His feast day is November 10.


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