Apostle Paul said to his disciples, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1: 18). When the persecution of Christians was finally over, and the people believed in the truth of God's word, the Lord made visible to them the Holy Wood of the Cross. That was the same Cross on which he suffered torment and death, to which he took the sins of man and on which he redeemed them.
The Lord had kept this wood hidden from our eyes underground until the fourth century AD, when the pious empress Elena discovered the Holy Life-bearing Cross in Jerusalem, on the site of a Pagan temple. Imagine the size of the crowd in Jerusalem that came to celebrate the finding. It was so large that few could approach the Cross, and they had to raise it for the people to see.
The Exaltation of the Cross reminds us about the magnitude of the change brought by Christ's coming to this world, his worldly life and ministry and His sacrifice. The New Testament man could not free himself from his enslavement to sin, but in our time, winning liberty from sin is within our power. What is stopping us, then? The answer is simple. With incessant prayer, full dedication to Christ and readiness to bear our cross as we follow Him, we would have freed ourselves, with God's help, from the shackles of our passions. We should do all these things. We should remind ourselves every minute from the moment we wake up that we are God's children made for everlasting life in Christ. We should live all our days with prayer at heart and not listen to the voice of our passions. Then can we end the bondage of our sin and resist the attacks of our enemy and his workings. In this battle against evil, the Holy Cross is our weapon and our support.
Too many today have become indifferent towards God. They live in separation from Him, but when the time comes, they lament, "Why is God punishing me this way? Why does He love me so little?" But had not we chosen to live without Him? Have not treated Him as consumers, always asking Him for something, and sometimes even thanking him?
Our relationship with God starts with love. The Lord went to the cross for our sake, so what can we do for Him? The best we can do is rejoice at seeing Him like little children do when they see their mother, as they extend their arms towards her, they smile and laugh. A child does not need her mother for nourishment only; she needs her because she loves! We can love God in the same way. We have the ability, but not the will. We do not have the will because we are missing something. We lack the ability to be like children. We had it for the first time when we were small children. We had our second chance in the tumultuous years of our youth. Finally, we came to believe and found God. The Lord offered us this gift, the ability to rejoice like children, but we lost it again. Why? Because we have been too preoccupied with things like identity and status, our position in the parish, or our social standing.
But the Lord has no anger towards us. He sometimes teaches us and allows us hardships, but only a moment later, He welcomes us back in His embrace! The Lord is re-entering our hearts, so open up to Him. He is ascending to the Golgotha to suffer for us. He suffers, and He returns. He is with us now. May the Lord be with you to the end of the age!
As we bow before His precious and life-giving Cross, let us glorify our Lord and ask Him: "Give us, O Lord, the same faith, simplicity and the ability to be like children like we had when You first entered our hearts! Enter our hearts once more to reignite us and make us partakers of life everlasting, of which you spoke many times in the Gospel. Everlasting life is like a seed that grows into a tree. It is like bread in the oven. It is a journey to holiness, starting in our hearts on this earth and guides us to the Kingdom of Heaven of the Father, which we all wish to inherit. Amen!
Archpriest Andrey Efanov