It has been my custom for many years to include at least one ancient sermon into my offerings for Lent. This year I reworked a sermon by St. Augustine of Hippo that I preached on Good Friday. I hope you find it useful...
The passion of our Lord Jesus gives us the confidence of eternal life. But it also gives us a lesson in the endurance of suffering.
With these two things, eternal life and endurance, is there anything which the hearts of the faithful may not conquer through the grace of God? For it was not enough that the Only Son of God, co-eternal from the beginning with the Father, should be born among us, as one of us, but he was even willing to die at the hands of those whom he created.
With this in mind, eternal life which God promises us for the future is great, but what God has already done for us in Christ is greater still. Who can doubt that he will give us his life, since he has already given us his death? And why should it be that we are so slow to believe that we will one day live with God? After all, a much more incredible thing has already happened…God has died for us.
For who is this Jesus unless he is that which, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God?” This Word became flesh and dwelt among us. As the Son of God, he was incapable of dying for us, and yet he chose to take on our nature. In doing so, he was able to experience our death in order that we might experience his life. He shared our humanity that one day we might share his divinity.
In this way, Christ entered into an exchange with us mortals. In this mutual sharing between us and Christ, he died for what was ours, that we might live for what was his. Because of this, rather than feeling shame when we look at his suffering on the Cross, we should with joy embrace the life which he offers. For by assuming the death he found within us, he promised to give us the life found within him.
Christ Jesus loved us so much, that what we deserved because of sin, he who was without sin, suffered on our behalf. Surely then, Christ who justifies sinners will give us what justice demands, and he whose promise is always faithful will give us the reward he has won.
So my sisters and brothers, let us proclaim without fear, and even more so, let us shout from the roof tops, that Jesus was crucified for us. Let us share this not trembling, but rejoicing, not with regret but with boosting. For as the Apostle Paul said, “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”