A homily attributed to Saint Ephrem (around 306 – 373), Deacon in Syria, Doctor of the Church.
“Lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32)
Today the cross is advancing, creation exults. The cross, path for those who have gone astray, hope of Christians, the apostles’ preaching, security of the universe, foundation of the Church, fountain for those who are thirsty… In great gentleness, Jesus is led to the passion: he is brought to Pilate’s judgment seat; at the sixth hour, people mock him; until the ninth hour, he bears the pain of the nails, then his death ends his passion. At the twelfth hour, he is taken down from the cross. You could say he is a sleeping lion…
While he is judged, Wisdom remains silent and the Word says nothing. His enemies despise and crucify him… Those to whom yesterday he gave his body as food, watch from a distance as he dies. Peter, the first of the apostles, is the first to flee. Andrew also took flight, and John, who rested at his side, did not prevent the soldier from piercing that side with a lance. The Twelve fled; they did not say one word in his favor, they for whom he is giving his life. Lazarus is not there, he whom he called back to life. The blind man did not weep for him who opened his eyes to the light, and the crippled man, who could walk thanks to him, did not run to him.
Only a bandit who was crucified next to him confessed him and called him his king. O thief, precocious blossom from the tree of the cross, first fruit of the wood from Golgotha…! The Lord reigns; creation rejoices. The cross triumphs, and all nations, tribes, languages and peoples (Rev 7:9) come to adore him… The cross gives light to the whole universe, it chases away the darkness and gathers the nations… into one single Church, one single faith, one single baptism in charity. It stands at the center of the world and is made firm on Calvary.