[*]In his speech, the Archbishop of America emphasized that “today the Holy Cross of the Lord is offered to all of us to remind us where we are going and how to get there. It is the Way of the Cross, the way that today is adorned with flowers, because our Lord Jesus Christ took this instrument of torture and death, and transformed it into a sign that death is conquered by the death “.
[*]In this magnificent Cathedral, together with your beloved Metropolitan, your faithful priests and all of you, I am so happy to celebrate this midpoint of our Lenten journey: the Sunday of the veneration of the Holy Cross.
[*]Today the Holy Cross of the Lord is offered to all of us to remind us where we are going and how to get there. It is the way of the Cross, the way that today adorns itself with flowers, because our Lord Jesus Christ took this instrument of torture and death, and transformed it into a sign that death is conquered by the death. For the Lord descended into Hades by means of the Cross, to free all creation from the bonds of sin and death.
[*]Here we are in the middle of Lent, and if you were here at Matins, you would have heard the melodies of the Resurrection sung with different words, but with the same beauty that will adorn Easter Sunday. And that’s because the Cross and the Empty Tomb can never be separated. There is no Good Friday without Easter Sunday, and there is no resurrection without crucifixion.
[*]We spoke of the Cross of the Lord, the Cross whose image and symbol we venerate at the end of our Service. The Cross before which we bow while singing:
[*]We venerate Your Cross, O Master, and we glorify Your Resurrection.
[*]But there is another cross we hear about today – not our Saviour’s Cross, but the cross that belongs to each of us. The Lord speaks of this in today’s Gospel, when He says:
[*]Whoever wants to follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.[*]
[*]What is this cross he asks us to bear? You know, in the Roman world of our Lord’s day, if you saw a person carrying a cross, it could only mean one thing. They were going to die on it. It was part of the torture of crucifixion – that the condemned had to carry the instrument of his own death.
[*]You may remember that when the Lord carried his cross, the Roman soldiers forced someone else to carry it, a certain Simon of Cyrene. [†]
[*]Perhaps it was because our Savior was too weak at that time to bear the weight. He hadn’t slept or eaten for days. He had been beaten and whipped. He had been tortured by the soldiers and made to wear a crown of thorns. These Roman soldiers persuaded this Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross of Christ, as they marched through the holy city to Golgotha.
[*]So I ask you once again: what is this cross that the Lord asks us to bear?
[*]He alone is the one who died for the sins of all, because he was without sin. Thus, he does not ask us to die on our cross. Instead, he asks us to follow him, deny ourselves, and bear the burden of our own crosses.
[*]And these burdens are not self-centered, but other-oriented. What I mean is that our crosses are choices we make:
[*]Choosing to love rather than hate.
[*]Forgive rather than resentful.
[*]Being generous rather than stingy – whether emotionally or materially.
[*]Because it is only when we freely choose to be people of integrity, virtuous, merciful and compassionate, that we find ourselves on the path that follows it. To be his disciples. To be in his image – the image given to us by Holy Baptism and which nourishes us at each Eucharist.
[*]My friends: It is not an easy path; not an easy way to live. It requires the kind of self-sacrifice that goes far beyond our choices on a menu during Lent. It means that we surrender ourselves so that we can give to others.
[*]The beauty of this kind of life, this kind of spiritual practice, is that no matter how difficult it may seem, we have the One who is committed to us, to help us carry our cross.
[*]He owes this debt to that same Simon of Cyrene, because Simon carried the Cross of the Lord for all of us. And now the Lord will help us with our crosses in generous repayment.
[*]Today, as we venerate and bow down to the Lord’s Cross, let us also find the courage to pick up our own cross. Do we deny ourselves those satisfactions that deprive us of living as loving and indulgent people?
[*]And when we grow weary and weary, we will find our Lord Jesus Christ by our side, ready to help us carry the burden and find our way in His footsteps, so that we may arrive through the Resurrection, into the Kingdom of Heaven. .
[*]Γένοιτο. So be it. Amen.
[*][*] Mark 8:34.
[*][†] See Matthew 27:32.