Sunday of the Cross, 3rd Sunday of Great Lent 2012
The Cross is brought out for adoration and as a support for us. It is a sign of Christ.
Great Lent is a time of increased prayer and repentance. It is a spiritual undertaking (podvig). When we face a podvig or difficulties, we need support.
The Cross reminds us of the suffering of Christ, which the Lord took upon Himself to deliver us from our sins. If the Lord endured tribulations and the death on the Cross for our sake, then we must struggle to endure the trial of fasting, repentance and prayers for the sake of our salvation.
When the Israelites under the guidance of the prophet Moses crossed through the desert, they were weaken by thirst. Suddenly, they approached a stream , but the waters were bitter. By the command of God , Moses threw a wooden staff into the stream and the waters were sweetened by it.
In the synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion, the following analogy is drawn: our life is embittered by sin, similar to the water of the stream, and the Lenten period (when one strives to follow the fast, of course) is difficult, like crossing the desert was for the Israelites. The wooden staff is the pre-figured Cross. As such, the adoration of the Cross is given as a support, to not give up but to continue the struggles of the fast with repentance and prayer.
Our fight is not with body and blood, as expressed by the Apostle Paul, although one must often battle with ones one body, but with the dark powers of this age, with the spiritual malice of the underworld, that is, the devil. This type is only driven out by fasting and prayer. The Cross is the weapon of victory which shows us how to triumph – through humility and bearing ones cross.
We must also go to meet the Lord along a grievous and narrow path.
One might be put off by the weightiness of the Lenten cross we must bear, but the Lord supports us in the this endeavor with the words: “My yoke is good and my burden is light”. It is difficult when we do evil – when he do not turn away from egoism and the passions of worldly delights, trying to please two masters.
Before us is the Cross of the Lord. May it be a support for us who fast and may it awaken those who still have not taken up the Lenten journey. May the Lord help us in this. Amen.