This Sunday, the Third Sunday of Great Lent, we commemorate the saving Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. On this day we celebrate the Veneration of the precious and life-giving Cross, the Cross which is placed before us in the center of the Church for refreshment and inspiration, but most of all encouragement to continue the long and difficult path of Great Lent.
This Sunday rejuvenates each of us to persevere and remain steadfast in our preparation towards the Holy Pascha. The Cross has been placed before us by the Holy Fathers, to comfort us and invigorate our spiritual strength.
This day marks the midpoint of Great Lent, giving us hope through the transformation of the Cross from a weapon of torture and death to one of exceedingly joyful glory, and symbolic of victory and life.
The Gospel of this day from Mark 8:34-9:1 entreats us to deny ourselves and take up our Cross and follow Him. It is not easy for us to understand the priceless worth of Christ’s undeserved suffering. Christ suffered deeply and intensely on account of human sin. Jesus suffered without complaint for He said from the length of the Cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). The Cross of Christ teaches us that we can turn to God, with repentance but without having to pay an unplayable debt.
This Sunday assures us that we will find grace and forgiveness before God, for we need simply to receive by faith the gift of the Cross because of what God has already done in Christ.
The gift of the Cross cannot be received without also accepting the way of the Cross as the way of Christ. The way of Christ, the way of the Cross, is to conquer evil with good, to win victory through sacrifice, and to find true life through denial of our sinful nature, not of our redeemed nature in Christ. The Cross challenges us to endure kindly and patiently the faults and shortcomings, real and perceived, of others.
In conclusion the Cross teaches us to forgive the many hurts life brings. So, on this Sunday of the Veneration let us sing, “Before Thy Cross we bow down and worship, O Master, and thy Holy Resurrection, we glorify!”