31 March 2010
Without a City Wall
Mrs Alexander's hymnographical ditties are easily derided, and they're certainly dated. But her words There is a green hill far away without a City wall remind me of one of the Passion sermons of S Leo the Great (I recommend all them as Passiontide readings) in which he reminds us that the Lord was not sacrificed in the one great place of the covenanted sacrifices ordained by the Father, in his Temple at Jerusalem. As that invariably readable scholar from the Jewish tradition, Jacob Neusner, has reminded us, the 'cleansing of the Temple' can only have had one theological meaning: the supersession of the Torah sacrifices. In S Leo's argument, that Cross on that hill without that city wall is the Ara Mundi, the Altar of the World, of the Cosmos, where the dear Lord was crucified who died to save us all.