Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Then [Pilate] delivered Him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led Him away. And He, bearing His Cross, went forth into a place called the Place of a Skull (which is called in the Hebrew, Golgotha) where they crucified Him . . . .
Today’s feast of the Holy Cross is ours due to the finding of the true Cross by St. Helena, mother of St. Constantine the Roman Emperor. If we recall, Jerusalem was razed to the ground by the Roman army as prophesied by our Lord so that no stone was left standing. The holy places of our Lord’s Crucifixion and Burial were buried beneath this rubble and then pagan shrines to the goddess of love erected on top of it, desecrating these holy sites. By God’s providence, St. Helena discovered these holy places, along with the relic of the true Cross which, in itself, was miraculous. She demolished the blasphemous pagan shrines and had built the complex that preserved the place of our Lord’s Crucifixion and the Holy Sepulcher in which He lay three days. September 13 commemorates the consecration of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and September 14 commemorates the finding of the true Cross of Jesus. Thus, twice a year the Church focuses her attention specifically on the Cross and intensively on His Great and Holy Passion.
Indeed, the Cross of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Passion are so intimately one that in our hymnody we address the Cross as though it were the Lord Himself. The Cross is lifted high – exalted and adored – precisely because of the Lord transfixed upon its rustic beams, Whose blood sanctified its very Life-giving wood. It is the Crucified One – the Cross – that saves us just surely as it was the wood of the Ark that saved Noah and his family (WS 14:1). “Blessed is the wood whereby righteousness cometh,” says the Wisdom of Solomon (WS 14:5).
Blessed indeed is the wood of the Cross upon which was hung the salvation of the whole world! The Cross, beloved, is our pattern of the Christian life, the Christ-life. It is that which saves us. It is that which sanctifies us. It is that which guides us through the corruption of this old world and it casts its light upon our darkness. It makes sweet the bitter waters of this fallen existence (Ex. 15:22-16:1). It remedies the venom of the ancient serpent’s bite. It is the wisdom of God for all who are being saved (1 Cr. 1:18-24). For this reason alone, then, the Apostle sings the praises of the Cross, declaring that he will boast or glory in the Cross and in nothing else (Ga. 6:14). Why? Because by the Cross he has been crucified to this world held captive to sin, death, and the devil and the world to him (Ga. 6:14). Upon the Cross he has been and is being conformed to the image of the Son of God (Rm. 8:29). In the waters of the Mystery of Holy Baptism, he has died with Christ His Death and has been raised with Christ in the power of His Resurrection so that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of sinners might live in and through His Apostle and all of us who have been likewise baptized (Rm. 6:1-14; Ga. 2:20). Through the Cross, then, we are a new creation, says St. Paul, and being a new creation is the only thing that truly matters (2 Cr. 5:17; Ga. 6:15).
All who allow themselves to be conformed to the Crucified Holy One of God, that is to say, all who allow Him to conform them to Himself outstretched upon the Cross bear within themselves the invincible weapon that the demons dread and our enemies fear. All who are humbled shall be lifted up or exalted, says our Lord, all who are crucified with Christ shall be glorified with Him (Mt. 23:12; Lk. 14:11; Rm. 6:8; 2 Tm. 2:11).
In short, then, beloved, turning once more to St. Paul, we are to have this same mind in ourselves as that of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ Who condescended so that He might ascend, taking on our flesh so that we might partake of His divine nature (2 Cr. 8:9; Pp. 2:5-11; 2 Pe. 1:4). Like the Apostle, like all the Apostles and all the saints of every time and every place, we seek Jesus Christ alone. We pursue Him Who has pursued us. We seek to know only one thing – and that is the Cross of our Lord – and only one Person – and that is Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cr. 2:2). What has been said about the Gospels can be said of us as well. And that is, the Gospels are nothing less than the Passion narrative of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ with an extended introduction. It is this Great and Holy Passion of our Lord that encompasses our salvation and marks us with the saving sign in the Mystery of Holy Baptism. It is the Great and Holy Passion of our Lord which we eat and drink in the Mystery of His Body and Blood. We have died with Christ to sin, death, and the devil and we have been raised with Him to newness of Life, to live by Him the New Life of God (Rm. 6:1-13). For, what matters above all else, is Jesus Christ crucified alive in me and I in Him.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (2 Cr. 5:15; Ga. 2:20).
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
VIGIL PROPERS: PROPERS:
Ex. 15:22-16:1 1 Cr. 1:18-24
Pr. 3:11-18 Jn. 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30-35