For Thursday of Lent Week 5
[From Norman Russell, Theophilus of Alexandria, The Early Fathers of the Church (New York: Routledge, 2007).]
Do you want to know the truth? Listen, I will tell you it. I will say to you again that while they do all these things to him, he turned his eyes towards heaven and prayed to his Father, saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Lk. 23:34). At the same time you should be aware that God the Father determines at what hour to send down on them his irrevocable anger, even as the voice of his Only-begotten ascends to him, beseeching him to put aside the indignation of his anger.
He sent a powerful angel and rent the curtain of the temple from top to bottom, tearing it into two. The earth shook, the rocks were split, the sun, that great source of light, was obscured and darkness filled the world to cover his sacred body on the cross, for it was stripped of his clothing which they had divided (cf. Mt. 27:45, 51; Lk. 23:44–5).
Ponder, then, my beloved, and reflect on God’s mercy towards the world. He who had clothed the whole of creation was despoiled of his own clothing. He was left naked on the wood of the cross. But the sun, that wise minister, covered its Lord with darkness, which endured until the eyes of those atheists were dimmed, so that they should not see the great mystery that lay on the wood of the cross, for they are not worthy of it
For he who was worthy of contemplating it at that hour saw the accomplishment of the mystery of his divinity. Who was ever worthy of this great glory at that hour?
Let us examine this. The Father contemplates it from heaven. The thief, too, after ascending to the height of the cross, contemplates all the things that had taken place, and rejoices and exults to see them. Who has ever seen them? The host of angels surrounds the cross and praises him with hymns. The Father looks down from heaven, giving glory to his Only-begotten. All the air is in motion because the body of the Creator is suspended on high. All the earth rejoices because the blood of its king is sprinkled upon it.