Friday, April 02, 2010

Blessed Is the Wood by Which Righteousness Comes

Borrowed from Fr. Powell, O.P., who borrowed it from Taylor Marshall:

Seven Reasons Why Christ Died on a Wooden Cross

First, Augustine observed that crucifixion is not only painful, it is painful and public. The public nature of Christ's death inspires us to face death heroically.

Second, Augustine observed that since Adam brought death through a tree, it was fitting that the New Adam destroy death by hanging on a tree.

Third, John Chrysostom and Theophylact observed that by being lifted up on the cross, Christ sanctified the air.

Fourth, Athanasius observed that by being lifted up on the cross, Christ shows that He has prepared the ascent into Heaven.

Fifth, Gregory of Nyssa observed that the shape of the cross was fitting for because it extends in the four directions and is therefore universal. Also, Athanasius wrote that the one outstretched arm sanctified the those in the past and the other arm as outstretched to the future. So we have both a spacial and temporal universality signified in the crucifixion.

Sixth, Augustine says the parts of the cross signifies the following:

* Breadth – This pertains to Christ’s hands and thus "good works"
* Length – This pertains to the upright nature of a tree and thus "longanimity".
* Height – This pertains to the top and Christ’s head and "the good hope" of the faithful.
* Base – The base is the root and it is hidden, thus it signifies "grace".

Seventh, Augustine observes that wood is salutary in the Old Covenant. Wood saved Noah in the Flood. Moses divided the sea with a wooden rod; purified water with wood, and brought forth water with his wooden rod. Also, the Ark of the Covenant was made of wood.
It is Thy will that works of Thy wisdom should not be without effect; therefore men trust their lives even to the smallest piece of wood, and passing through the billows on a raft they come safely to land.  For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft, and guided by thy hand left to the world the seed of a new generation.  For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.
Wisdom 14:5-7

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