Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Leo the Great on the Man of Dust and the Man of Heaven

Tenth Station of the Cross, St. Mary's Church, Altus, Arkansas.

From a homily by Pope St. Leo the Great:

I think that the instructions I have given you about our share in Christ's cross have sufficiently shown how the paschal mystery should enter into the very life of the faithful and how our daily conduct should be a proclamation of what we honor at the Easter festival. You yourselves have experienced the value of this participation, and you have learned by your Lenten exercises how much both soul and body have to gain from extended fasting, prolonged prayers, and increased generosity in almsgiving. There is scarcely anyone who has not been enriched by these practices, and who has not preserved in the depths of his memory something in which he may justifiably rejoice.

Since, then, the aim of our forty days' observance has been to experience some share in the sufferings of the cross, we must also strive to share in Christ's resurrection, and to pass from death to life while we are yet in this mortal body.

The result of our undergoing a conversion from one state to another is that we cease to be what we were and begin to be something more. But the end of our dying or living is of the utmost importance, for there is a death that brings life, and a life that brings death. It is only in this fleeting world that both are sought together, so that the difference in our future rewards depends upon the quality of our present actions. We must therefore be dead to Satan and alive to God; we must abandon sin in order to rise to holiness. And since Truth himself says: No one can serve two masters, let our master be the Lord who has raised up the fallen to glory, not the one who has brought the upright to ruin.

The Apostle tells us: The first man came from the earth, a man of dust: the second man is from heaven. As the man of dust was, so are those who are of the dust; and as the man of heaven is, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have been fashioned after the man of dust, so we shall also be fashioned after the man of heaven. There is therefore every reason for us to rejoice at this exchange, which translates us from earthly disrepute to heavenly honor through the untold mercy of him who descended to our level in order to lift us up to his, by assuming not only the reality of our human nature but also its sinful condition, and allowing his divine impassibility to be assailed by all the sufferings which are our mortal lot.
From the First Sermon on the Lord's Resurrection
Reading for the Second Lesson of Vigils for Monday in Holy Week