The Lord continues to confound my expectations.
He sweeps me off my feet, and draws me straight with the crooked lines of my own devising.
I love Holy Week.
So much to do, so much to read, so much to pray, so much to delve into.
I did not know the details of the legend explaining how the Wood of the Cross could be from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
If you find reading the apocryphal gospels or pious legends unseemly or dangerous, forgive me, and pass on.
For myself, a find a connection between them and the comic books, and tv and film of our own day with their fascination with holy and transcendent things, (which for the contemporary media is sadly coupled with their profound embarrassment at appearing to buy into such nonsense as the existence of Absolute Good, the great I AM.)
From the Harrowing of Hell inf the Gospel of Nicodemus -
We then were in Hades, with all who had fallen asleep since the beginning of the world. And at the hour of midnight there rose a light as if of the sun, and shone into these dark regions; and we were all lighted up, and saw each other... and said to each other:
This light is from a great source of light....This light is from the Father, and from the Son, and from the Holy Spirit; ... the people that sat in darkness, have seen a great light.
Then there came into the midst another, an ascetic from the desert [who] said: I am John, the last of the prophets, who made the paths of the Son of God straight, and proclaimed to the people repentance for the remission of sins. And the Son of God came to me; and I, seeing Him a long way off, said to the people: Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. And with my hand I baptized Him in the river Jordan, and I saw like a dove also the Holy Spirit coming upon Him; and I heard also the voice of God, even the Father, thus saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And on this account He sent me also to you, to proclaim how the only begotten Son of God is coming here, that whosoever shall believe in Him shall be saved, and whosoever shall not believe in Him shall be condemned. On this account I say to you all, in order that when you see Him you all may adore Him...
Adam heard, and said to his son Seth: My son, I wish you to tell the forefathers of the race of men and the prophets where I sent you, when it fell to my lot to die.
And Seth said: Prophets and patriarchs, hear. When my father Adam, the first created, was about to fall once upon a time into death, he sent me to make entreaty to God very close by the gate of paradise, that He would guide me by an angel to the tree of compassion and that I might take oil and anoint my father...
An angel of the Lord came, and said to me... This is not to be found now. Go, therefore, and tell your father, that after the accomplishing of five thousand five hundred years from the creation of the world, then shall come into the earth the only begotten Son of God, being made man; and He shall anoint him with this oil, and shall raise him up; and shall wash clean, with water and with the Holy Spirit, both him and those out of him, and then shall he be healed of every disease; but now this is impossible.
Satan the heir of darkness [said] There is of the race of the Jews one named Jesus, calling himself the Son of God; and being a man, by our working [they] have crucified him: and now when he is dead, be ready that we may secure him here. For I know that he is a man, and I heard him also saying, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.
When the patriarchs and the prophets heard these words, they rejoiced greatly.
He has also done me many evils when living with mortals in the upper world. For wherever he found my servants, he persecuted them; and whatever men I made crooked, blind, lame, lepers, or any such thing, by a single word he healed them; and many whom I had got ready to be buried, even these through a single word he brought to life again.
Hades [the Greek god who is personified Hell in this telling] says: And is this man so powerful as to do such things by a single word? Or if he be so, can you withstand him? It seems to me that, if he be so, no one will be able to withstand him. And if you say that you heard him dreading death, he said this mocking you, and laughing, wishing to seize you with the strong hand; and woe, woe to you, to all eternity!
Satan says: O all-devouring and insatiable Hades, are you so afraid at hearing of our common enemy? I was not afraid of him...
Hades answered: Heir of darkness, son of destruction, devil, you have just now told me that many whom you had made ready to be buried, be brought to life again by a single word. And if he has delivered others from the tomb, how and with what power shall he be laid hold of by us? For I not long ago swallowed down one dead, Lazarus by name; and not long after, one of the living by a single word dragged him up by force out of my bowels: and I think that it was he of whom you speak. If, therefore, we receive him here, I am afraid lest perchance we be in danger even about the rest. For, lo, all those that I have swallowed from eternity I perceive to be in commotion, and I am pained in my belly. And the snatching away of Lazarus beforehand seems to me to be no good sign: for not like a dead body, but like an eagle, he flew out of me; for so suddenly did the earth throw him out. Wherefore also I adjure even you, for your benefit and for mine, not to bring him here; for I think that he is coming here to raise all the dead. And this I tell you: by the darkness in which we live, if you bring him here, not one of the dead will be left behind in it to me.
While Satan and Hades were thus speaking to each other, there was a great voice like thunder, saying: Lift up your gates, O you rulers; and be lifted up, you everlasting gates; and the King of glory shall come in. When Hades heard, he said to Satan: Go forth, if you are able, and withstand him. Satan therefore went forth to the outside. Then Hades says to his demons: Secure well and strongly the gates of brass and the bars of iron, and attend to my bolts, and stand in order, and see to everything; for if he come in here, woe will seize us.
The forefathers having heard this, began all to revile him, saying: O all-devouring and insatiable! Open, that the King of glory may come in. David the prophet says: Do you not know, O blind, that I when living in the world prophesied this saying: Lift up your gates, O you rulers? Hesaias said: I, foreseeing this by the Holy Spirit, wrote: The dead shall rise up, and those in their tombs shall be raised, and those in the earth shall rejoice. And where, O death, is your sting? Where, O Hades, is your victory?
There came, then, again a voice saying: Lift up the gates. Hades, hearing the voice the second time, answered as if forsooth he did not know, and says: Who is this King of glory? The angels of the Lord say: The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. And immediately with these words the brazen gates were shattered, and the iron bars broken, and all the dead who had been bound came out of the prisons, and we with them. And the King of glory came in in the form of a man, and all the dark places of Hades were lighted up.
Immediately Hades cried out: We have been conquered: woe to us! But who are you, that hast such power and might? And what are you, who comest here without sin who art seen to be small and yet of great power, lowly and exalted, the slave and the master, the soldier and the king, who hast power over the dead and the living? You were nailed on the cross, and placed in the tomb; and now you are free, and hast destroyed all our power. Are you then the Jesus about whom the chief satrap Satan told us, that through cross and death you are to inherit the whole world? Then the King of glory seized the chief satrap Satan by the head, and delivered him to His angels, and said: With iron chains bind his hands and his feet, and his neck, and his mouth. Then He delivered him to Hades, and said: Take him, and keep him secure till my second appearing.
the King of glory stretched out His right hand, and took hold of our forefather Adam, and raised him.
Then turning also to the rest, He said: Come all with me, as many as have died through the tree which he touched: for, behold, I again raise you all up through the tree of the cross. Thereupon He brought them all out, and our forefather Adam seemed to be filled with joy,