The Tree of the Cross

Jesus has shown in his own person all the fullness of life offered on the tree of the cross. For me this tree is a plant of eternal health. I feed on it; by its roots I find stability; by its branches I reach out to others. I rejoice in its dew; I am invigorated by the rustling of its leaves. I freely enjoy its fruits as if they were meant just for me from the beginning of the world. It is my food when I am hungry; it is my fountain when I am thirsty; it is my very clothing, for its leaves are the spirit of life.

The tree of which I speak has celestial dimensions, reaching from earth to heaven, a plant of eternity which is planted in both heaven and earth, the foundation of the universe, gathering under its canopy all the diverse peoples of the world, fastened by invisible nails of the Spirit, so that its link with divine power may never be broken.

O divine crucifixion! Your reach extends everywhere and embraces all things. O unique event, whose singularity gathers all things into unity! Even Hades knew the divine coming. Christ gave himself up completely to death, so that the devouring beast might be secretly poisoned. It searched everywhere in his sinless body for food, but when it found nothing in him that it could eat, it was imprisoned in itself: it was starved to death, it was its own death.

O heavenly Easter! By you, O Christ, the darkness of death has been destroyed and life poured out on every creature. The gates of; heaven stand open: God himself has revealed himself in human form and humanity has ascended and become God! Thanks to you the gates of hell have been shattered. Thanks to you the great banqueting hall is full for the marriage feast, the guests are dressed in their wedding attire, and no one will be cast out into the darkness. Thanks to you the fire of love is burning in all, in spirit and body, fueled by the very oil of the risen Christ.

— From an ancient paschal homily by an unknown author


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