Sunday of the Cross

The third Sunday of Lent is known as the Sunday of the Cross. Its gospel reading comes from Mark 8:34 – 9:1. Mark 8:34 reads, “And after receiving the crowd together with his disciples he said to them, ‘If someone wills to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.’”

We do not do this alone, our Lord always leads us in the way. A few verses earlier he states, “…it is necessary for the Son of Man to suffer much, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes and to be killed and after three days to rise again (8:31).” Following Jesus’ words, Peter rebukes him, then Jesus rebukes Peter: “Get behind me Satan…” Peter had the way of world in mind: SELF PRESERVATION.

Jesus’ death proved to be the way of life and victory. On the Cross Jesus offered himself to liberate us from the death of sin, alienation, darkness, and condemnation as humanity was held in the tyrannical grip of Satan as we were pulled by him to his hideous destiny of Hell. By his Cross, Jesus trampled down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowed life, as the Pascal hymn declares, for from his death he rose to glorified new life.
The Church teaches that we are drawn by Christ to himself even from the agony of his Cross. From the Sixth Hour: “O Christ, on the sixth day and hour, You nailed to the Cross the sin which rebellious Adam committed in Paradise…You have wrought salvation in the midst of the earth, O Christ God. You stretched out Your all-pure hands upon the Cross; You gathered together all the nations that cry aloud to You: Glory to You, O Lord!” Adding to this, we read from Colossians 1: 19 – 20:

Because in him all the fulness [to pleroma] was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all thing to himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, whether things upon the earth or those things in heaven.

All and all of creation is in Christ, and by Christ all and all things are reconciled and made right by his victorious Cross.

As we have been gathered together in this salvation of death and resurrection, so we are to walk in it as Jesus’ disciples: We are to take up our cross — daily! Our crosses aren’t the BIG things, they’re the daily things — ordinary things — that come our way. Crosses are always before that we may offer ourselves on them: to put to death the corruption in us, that we may gain the light and life of Christ to hold within us! We always have the option to go to our crosses, or turn away. We have the option of consent or denial — a challenge and a struggle which we are to engage by the grace and assistance of God. If we consent to move to the cross, we gain Christ’s life. If we deny the cross before us, our self-preservation only strengthens the corruption of soul that resides within us.

Fear not should we fail from time to time! Our Lord is for us as we are informed in today’s epistle: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” We find a parallel inPsalm 103/102 (LXX): As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him, for he knows our frame and remembers that we are dust.”

Crosses are not easy. They are instruments of death which lead to life in Christ.
Engage and consent to the mundane cross before you. St. Paul gives us this spiritual advise as we move to our crosses: “Rejoice always. Pray constantly. Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus! (1 Thes 5: 6 – 18).”

In Christ,
Fr. Irenaeus



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