Yesterday, was the midpoint of the Lenten fast. Our mother church in recognition of our struggle has given to us by way of pause, reflection and refreshment the holy cross to venerate as a physical symbol of the promise of the resurrection. The gospel reading (Mark 8:34 – 9:1) proclaimed: “whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
The cross is the gift of strength to fortify us in our struggle to light and life. We embrace the cross as something salvific and as something good. But, in order to follow Christ we must first pick up our cross – whatever our cross may be: illness, pain, sorrow, familial problems, economic problems and the list goes on. Even if we feel that the weight of our cross overwhelms us – Christ still consoles us. Does he not declare elsewhere that we are to come to him – especially those who are heavy laden and labour and he will give us rest? . For does he not also say that his yoke is easy and his burden is light?
These words are spoken by Christ in the full knowledge that he would be crucified for us on the cross. It is by that very crucifixion that the cursed wood of the cross was transformed by the blood of Christ into the living symbol of our faith. For Christ came into the world not to condemn it as he was condemned but rather through that condemnation save the world. What love can be greater than that?.
Christ also says: “whoever desires to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospels will save it”. There it is. For salvation we need a firm conviction that what we do that is good we do it in His name. Whatever good that we do we do it for the sake of the Gospel. But, here is the thing! Unless we have picked up the cross, committed to carrying the cross and planting the cross as a visible sign of goodness overcoming evil we will not be saved. You cannot be master of your own life and at the same time say Christ is master of your life. Simply put, you cannot serve two masters.
May the cross of Christ give us all the strength to permit us to follow him whilst caring our crosses. May our old selves be crucified with him and may our new selves, washed with the blood of Christ, rise on the glorious morning with him. May we emulate the saints who by picking up their cross saved not only themselves but in turn now save others through their example, through their intercession.
Activities around our church are increasing with the approach of the Feast of Feasts:
Have you ever thought how an accursed instrument of death could be transformed by the death of one person into the brightest symbol of life? If Christ can transform the cross by the shedding of his blood then how much more can he transform your life if you let him?
Till next time.
Father John Athanasiou 0411 061 554