THE SUNDAY OF VENERATION OF THE HOLY CROSS, THIRD WEEK OF FASTING

Biblical Readings Heb 4:14-5:6 Mk 8:34-9:1

“Then Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to Him. If anyone wants to come with me, He told them, he must forget himself, carry his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 Does a person gain anything if he wins the whole world but loses his life? Of course not! 37 There is nothing he can give to regain his life. 38 If a person is ashamed of me and of my teaching in this godless and sinful generation, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 1 And He went on to say, Truly I tell you, there are some here who will not die before they have seen the kingdom of God come with power”.

We are exactly in the middle of Great Lent. Because, this period lasts six weeks, counting the days adding the Great Week itself. It is in this period when Jesus spoke again about His suffering and death on the cross! (v v 31-33). Compare Mt 16:24-28 and Lk 9:23-27 with the lesson passage of today. Since we are in the middle of our journey, practically we bring out today the holy Cross, and venerate it and remember the sayings of Christ the Lord, in reference to our earthly life being connected with the after-death life. The strong
statements of Jesus today have the sense of a revolutionary attitude, for anyone wanting to follow the Lord and Word of God the Father. And this revolutionary attitude springs not from ordinary human courage, but from gracious self-denial, and acceptance of Christ as the Lord (guide) in our life. Lk 2:11. Ro 10:9;14:9.

This theme is the essence of the Christian life, the life that is guided by the heavenly light. Jn 1:4, 9-10. When we decide for the change of our previously wicked style of life, into the righteous way which is ruled by Christ himself, then we become born from above, children of God the Father in Christ the Word. Jn 1:12-13. “On this account (reflection), let every thought and every purpose and every word and every action become denial of ourselves in Christ Jesus”! That is men to become perfect in Christ the Lord: the abstinence from every sin and wickedness. Such is the man crucified with Christ, taking up his own cross and following Christ Jesus the Lord of perfect life. The Lord and Savior will not be ashamed of such a self-denying man, in the glory of God.

Apostle Paul exemplary denied himself in Christ the Word of God. “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ the Word of God who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave His life for me” (Gal 2:20). Therefore, let us all hold firmly to the virtue of faith we profess, the Orthodox faith. “For Christ did not take upon himself the honor of being a high priest”! (Heb 5:6). He did the entire process of the salvation mission under the spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice.

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