Dear Brothers & Sisters,
I was looking for a way to invite and exhort all of you to be prepared for Holy Week. In my prayers I came across this homily from John Chrysostom on Second Corinthians, which I would like to share with you. As you are being invited, take advantage of inviting others to join us!
The Father sent the Son to exhort men in his name and to take the task of intermediary for mankind; but since after his death he left us, we entered into his ministry, and we exhort you in his name and in his Father's name. Mankind is so precious to his eyes that he gave up his Son, though knowing that he would be killed, and has constituted us apostles for your good. Therefore do not believe that we are inviting you: it is the same Christ, the same Father who implores you through us. What can be given to us by such extraordinary goodness? In front of his countless benefits, we insulted him, but he did not inflict any punishment, instead gave his Son to reconcile us with him. Those who received him did not care in reconciling; on the contrary they condemned him to death.
Then he sent other mediators, and in them is he who implores. What does he ask? Be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20). He does not say: Regain the grace of God, because the cause of the enmity is not in him, but in you; God in fact never generates hate. On the contrary he is sent as mediator, to resolve the case. It is written: God made him to be sin who did not know sin (2 Cor 5:21). Even if Jesus would only have become man, how much should we appreciate that God gave his Son for the salvation of us who insulted him. He did much more, he permitted the offended to be put on the cross in the place of the offenders! He who did not know sin, but was justice itself, God made him to be sin, he tolerated that he was condemned as a sinner, that he would die as cursed: in fact, Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree (Gal 3:13). Such death became more atrocious than any other death. He underlines it saying: he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (Ph 2: 8). Therefore consider how many benefits you have received from him. It follows, if we love Christ as he should be loved, we would punish ourselves for our sins; not because of the fear of Hell, but of the fear to offend God. This is more terrible: that the Lord with indifference turns away his eyes from us. Let us fear sin after reflecting on these things: because this is the punishment, this is Hell, and this is a great evil. Let us not only fear it, but also flee from it and make an effort to please God: this is to reign, this is life, in this are enclosed innumerable benefits. So we will possess the future kingdom and goods already on the earth. May Heaven grant us to obtain it, by the grace and the benevolence of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father Steven Clemence