“Wherefore, just as we have been accustomed to rejoice in the rising and ascending of the Lord, so now, not without merit, we rejoice in the lifting up of the cross. For this scale held our ransom, by which indeed both we were rescued from the yoke of Egyptian slavery and we were freed from the usurious interest of the greedy extortionist. Clearly, this sum satisfied the handwritten decree of our insatiable damnation, and paid off for us the insoluble debt of the ancient bond of security. Whence the distinguished preacher to the Colossians: ‘And you,’ he said, ‘when you were dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh; he hath quickened together with him, forgiving you all offences: Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross: And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open shew, triumphing over them in himself.’ “*
Peter Damian wrote this sermon for the Exaltation of the Cross in the mid-eleventh century. One of the most significant theologians of his time, he joined a strict monastic community in central Italy and became an important supporter the Papal Reform movement as a Cardinal-bishop before he died in 1073. He is well known for his verbal attacks on the practice of usury (charging interest to loan money) and the sexual sins of the clergy. In this sermon he describes Christ’s death on the Cross as a the only means to pay humanity’s debt for sin. The greedy extortionist is the devil who charged usurious interest on this debt. Peter points out that only Christ could pay this debt that demanded eternal condemnation as St Paul explained in his letter to the Colossians.
The image to the right is currently in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I took this photo there. Originally made in the twelfth century, some parts were added and reassembled in the later Middle Ages. It also contained a relic of the True Cross as you can see at the top. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O120840/altar-cross-unknown/
*Peter Damian, Sermo 48: De exaltatione sanctae crucis, CCCM 57 (Turnhout, 1983), 292. [This is my translation.]