The Cross of faithful belief.
The Cross of faithful belief.
A sermon on the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Archbishop Averky (Taushev).
The Cross is the keeper of the world, the Cross is an adornment of the Church, the Cross is a symbol of the power of tsars, the Cross is a symbol of faithful belief, the Cross is the glory of angels and the plague of demons. (Hymn to the Cross)
The Cross of the Lord is such a mighty sacred object for us that besides the frequent entreaties to it and its mention in daily services and prayers, the Holy Church deemed it necessary for all of Orthodoxy to establish a great feast day dedicated to it – the feast day of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross of the Lord – and have the feast day join the list of the most important so-called Twelve Great Feasts.
It is a wonderful autumnal feast! In a way it completes all the other feasts and sums them all up. Having painted a picture of the Divine Economy of God to soothe our souls, including the grace-filled and wise counsel of God concerning our salvation embodied in all the great feasts dedicated to the Lord and the Mother of God, the Holy Church concludes by leading us to worship at the Lord’s Cross as if to say, “You have seen all that God has done for your salvation, but you do not know yet what you should do to be saved. I say to you on this day, if you desire to be saved, then cling to Christ’s Cross and you will be saved. It harbors miraculous life-giving powers which will resurrect your soul that has been deadened by sins. Learn to love the Lord’s Cross, which is a mighty symbol of God’s love and an instrument of your salvation, learn to love the Lord’s Cross above all else in the world, cling to it not only with your adoring lips, but with all your soul, with all your body and you will be saved!”
That is because the Lord’s Cross is a wonderful instrument of our salvation, our redemption from sin, damnation and eternal death. Christ “nailed a record of our sins” to the Cross. On the Cross, “Christ the King willingly spread his arms and lifted us to the first blessing, if thine enemy absconds with thy goodness, he will be driven out by God.” On the Cross, Christ “endured crucifixion and conquered death by death.”
That is why the Cross for us Christians is no longer an instrument of terrible humiliating punishment, as it was in ancient times when it was an instrument of damnation, “cursed…hanging on the tree” as told in the Old Testament, but an instrument of God’s blessing, a symbol of joy.
The Cross of the Lord is also for us Christians a great and wonderful symbol of the infinite love of God for fallen man which cannot be expressed in any human language: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). The Cross of the Lord constantly reminds us of that great truth which was revealed to us only by the beloved student of Christ, the apostle of love St. John the Theologian, that “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16), because “since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4;11)
How many important, no, very important instructive truths do we receive from venerating the Cross of Christ!