Spy Wednesday: “For all their torches and lanterns …they did not recognize the Fount of Light”

Pope St. Leo the Great (d. 461) Sermon 59 (On the Passion, VIII.: on Wednesday in Holy Week.)

I. Christ’s arrest fulfils His own eternal purpose

Having discoursed, dearly beloved, in our last sermon, on the events which preceded the Lord’s arrest, it now remains, by the help of God’s grace, to discuss, as we promised, the details of the Passion itself. When the Lord had made it clear by the words of His sacred prayer that the Divine and the Human Nature was most truly and fully present in Him, showing that the unwillingness to suffer proceeded from the one, and from the other the determination to suffer by the expulsion of all frail fears and the strengthening of His lofty power, then did He return to His eternal purpose, and in the form of a sinless slave encounter the devil who was savagely attacking Him by the hands of the Jews: that He in Whom alone was all men’s nature without fault, might undertake the cause of all. The sins of darkness, therefore, assailed the true Light, and, for all their torches and lanterns , could not escape the night of their own unbelief, because they did not recognize the Fount of Light. They arrest Him, and He is ready to be seized; they lead Him away, and He is willing to be led; for though, if He had willed to resist, their wicked hands could have done Him no harm, yet thereby the world’s redemption would have been impeded, and He, who was to die for all men’s salvation, would have saved none at all…

IV. Christ bearing His own cross is an eternal lesson to the Church

And so the Lord was handed over to their savage wishes, and in mockery of His kingly state, ordered to be the bearer of His own instrument of death, that what Isaiah the prophet foresaw might be fulfilled, saying, Behold a Child is born, and a Son is given to us whose government is upon His shoulders.  When, therefore, the Lord carried the wood of the cross which should turn for Him into the sceptre of power, it was indeed in the eyes of the wicked a mighty mockery, but to the faithful a mighty mystery was set forth, seeing that He, the glorious vanquisher of the Devil, and the strong defeater of the powers that were against Him, was carrying in noble sort the trophy of His triumph, and on the shoulders of His unconquered patience bore into all realms the adorable sign of salvation: as if even then to confirm all His followers by this mere symbol of His work, and say, He that takes not his cross and follows Me, is not worthy of Me Matthew 10:38 .


One thought on “Spy Wednesday: “For all their torches and lanterns …they did not recognize the Fount of Light””

  1. Ten years ago I was at a NO mass. Just returning from Holy Communion, there was silence in the church. In the silence, I prayed that I could become closer to the Lord. At that very moment, the priest stood up and walked over to the ambo and spoke these words: “If you want to get closer to the Lord, you need to pick up your cross and follow after Him.” I was astonished.. blown away. It was out of the blue that the priest did that. That experience never left me. I still believe that was especially for me at the very moment, as I was unknowingly about to enter into a passion of sorts with my father and his approaching death. But I also believe that was encouragement for the things to come to keep the faith and persevere. Happy, Holy Easter to all.

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