Dr. Robert Crouse was a noted Patristic and Medieval scholar, and a teacher and priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. Father Crouse instilled a deep love of learning in generations of students. He was also a noted priest, a bulwark of orthodox faith, and has been described as “the conscience of the Canadian Church”. The following contains excerpts from a Good Friday sermon by Dr. Crouse:
“Then Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things written by the Prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated and spitted on: and they shall scourge him, and put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things, and this saying was hid from them; neither understood they the things which were spoken.” (Luke 18.31-34)
“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem” is the summons of this day. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, to witness those things which come to pass here. We gaze and fix our minds and hearts upon the passion of the Son of God. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, to witness a mystery which astounds and stupefies, a mystery before which all words seem cheap, and every symbol seems too shallow. What thoughts or what emotions can embrace such horrendous contradictions: the Son of God is spitted on; the Son of God, the Word of Life, goes down to death. How can we contemplate such things? How can we even begin to understand? How can we fix our minds and hearts on that?
In the mystery of that moment, all the powers of heaven and earth and hell are shaken. The sun withholds its light, and the whole creation, which longs for its redemption, utters its astounded cry, as the earth quakes, and the rocks are rent. In that moment, all the hopes and expectations of religion are confounded, and the veil of the Temple is rent in twain from the top unto the bottom. Many bodies of the saints arise and go about the city. That is to say, the whole settled order of the universe and of human life and expectations, all that is reasonable and dependable, is overturned; turned upside down when God, the Son of God, is spitted on, when the Word of Life goes down to death. . . .
The power of human wickedness is no doubt great. Its machinations sink into the very fabric of our life, and cripple the mind and heart. The power of human wickedness is great, but not so great that it should touch the holy peace of God, unless he willed that it should touch him. Jesus says to Pilate, “Thou could’st have no power against me, unless it were given thee from above.” Human wickedness will raise itself in pride and claim to be “as God,” but that is devilish delusion. God is not touched unless he will it so to be.
We bear in mind today the weight of human wickedness, that reckless pride which rises up against the holiness of God and the order of his universe. But that is not what is first and most important in the mystery of the love of God, who freely wills our woes to touch his heart, who freely gives himself against our sins, in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That is the mystery of this day, and that is why we call this Friday “Good.” We celebrate the mystery of the love of God: that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Begotten Son.” (John 3.16) That is love unthinkable, utterly unmerited, beyond all possible expectation.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5.6-8).
Our task today is nothing other than the contemplation of that mystery of love. It is to fix our minds and hearts upon the passion and the dying of the Son of God . . . All that is understandable. But in the end, there is only one answer to all of this: we must gaze upon the charity of God in Christ. The charity of God must be our food and drink. . . .
This is why the heart of Christian life is the sacrament of Calvary, the sacrament of body broken, and blood out-poured. Christ’s sacrifice abides with us in the sacrament, so that we may look upon the mystery of love and eat and drink the charity of God . . . We must eat and drink the charity of God so that God’s own charity, which hears, believes, hopes and endures, may be the substance of our life and the renewal of our minds.
© R.D. Crouse, all rights reserved
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