Friday, April 18, 2014

An Act of Supreme Love

"Let us go to Good Friday, the day when Christ died upon the cross so that we may live. A Russian hymn says:

O Life Eternal, how is it that Thou art brought to the grave,
O Light, how is it that Thou art quenched.

Indeed it is life eternal that seems to go down to the grave. It is life eternal, the glory of God revealed to us in his Son that seems to be quenched, to be removed from us forever....

His death has a quality, a weight, that belongs to him alone.  We are not saved by the death of Christ because it was particularly cruel.  Countless men, women, and children throughout the ages have suffered as cruelly..... The death of Christ is unique because Jesus of Nazareth could not die.... It is not his Resurrection that is the incredible miracle.  It is his death..... Christ himself is God incarnate. United to his Godhead, his very humanity, his true humanity, is beyond death.  The incarnate Son of God makes his very flesh, his very human nature incorruptible and beyond dying.  And yet he dies....

This makes the death of Christ beyond our imagining, far beyond any suffering that we can humanly picture or experience. Christ's death is an act of supreme love.  It was true when he said, 'No one takes my life from me; I give it freely myself.'  No one could kill him - the Immortal; no one could quench this Light that is the shining of the splendor of God. He gave his life, he accepted the impossible death to share with us all the tragedy of our human condition."

(From pp. 179-182 of "Metropolitan Anthony: Essential Writings").

(Anglo-Saxon crucifixion scene, Romsey Abbey, 10th Century. Picture from the Twitter account @ClerkofOxford).

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