In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, we exalt the great feast day of the Life-Giving Cross, placing it above us, professing that in Him, our Lord Jesus Christ, through His crucification on the Cross, gave His love to us through sacrifice, death, and resurrection.
There were many instances in Christian history where pagan rulers tried as they might, to kill any instance and signs of our faith in God. The pagan emperor Adrian in the 2nd century tried to bury the grounds of Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre of our Lord and instead, build a pagan temple to trample on holy grounds.
As our Lord promised, the Church will persevere, and after 3 centuries, the Life-Giving Cross and the Holy Sepulchre were uncovered to the world once again in the year 326, with the demolition of the pagan temple. The Life-Giving Cross were found by Saint Helena, Empress, and mother to the Equal-to-the-Apostles Emperor Constantine the Great.
Patriarch St Makarios helped the Empress discern the miraculous Life-Giving Cross, and exalted the Life-Giving Cross by lifting it up and uttering with repentance, “Lord have mercy!”, with the multitude of the faithful praying with faithful repentance.
There was no lack of those who would hope to destroy the faith in our Lord. The Persians robbed the Greeks of the Life-Giving Cross and was held captive, for 14 years. The Life-Giving Cross was eventually recovered. When the then Emperor Herakles, in his royal crown and garb, carried the Life-Giving Cross with Patriarch Zacharios along with him, and when they reached Golgotha, the Emperor could not walk further. Patriarch Zacharios told the Emperor an Angel of the Lord has stopped them, because our Lord Jesus Christ walked Golgotha with great humiliation as He journeyed forth to complete the expiation of the sins of the world (St John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30-35). The Emperor understood and changed into plain clothes, and could carry forward with the carrying of the Life-Giving Cross into the Church.
We of the faith wear the Cross, physically, and inwardly, bearing the burdens with repentance and prayer, and also, when we can (and we should), bear the burdens of our brethren and others, with prayers, deeds, and love, as we read from 1 Corinthians 1:18-24.
We also remember father among the saints, St John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on his repose in the year 407. Some who have the great blessing, may have venerated the holy relics of the saint, on Mount Athos.
And especially in these days and age, let us remember with conviction, the kindly admonition of our beloved St John Chrysostom who said, “Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: “This is my body” is the same who said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food”, and “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me”… What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.”
Today is a great day of repentance and prayers, and it reminds us with a commanding call, that we the faithful, are to journey forward with courage, with charity, with humility, with prayers, and most of all, with repentance of our sins to our Lord, and in Him, life comes to us despite the bearing of the burdens we carry. We are to embrace the Life-Giving Cross as healing, as strength, as mercy, as we embrace our own crosses, and even the crosses of our brethren and others (Exodus 15:22-16:1, Proverbs 3:11-18).
In all pain and suffering we endure, and in all joys we enjoy, in His infinite Grace and Mercy unto us, we call on His Holy Name, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.
Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:
It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.
O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
St John 19:6-11, 13-20, 25-28, 30-35
1 Corinthians 1:18-24