Saturday, March 14, 2015

From the Cross to the depth of God

   This Sunday, at the end of the Divine Service, we shall have a procession with the Holy Cross placed in the midst of flowers; each believer will get one of these flowers when embracing the Cross. The Cross is surrounded with three candles as if the Holy Trinity is bowing for every believer cleaving to the Cross.

   We, however, reach for meanings and do not stop at the Icon we kiss; we search for deeper understandings, for what lies behind this sacred kiss. And what lies deeper is what the Lord has said in the Bible this Sunday: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”, as if He was saying that this is a condition if we want to consider ourselves His disciples, accepting life as it is given, as it comes and be crucified on it. The Cross is cast in our lives or, in other word, our lives are cast on the Cross. Each and every one of us is hindered by this or that person or by his own sin, thus his whole being is scattered. Jesus did not invent the Cross, but He found it in Him, in His Flesh and Blood, in the flesh of a weary humanity. Jesus did not love the Cross and does not request from us to search for suffering, suffering is loathsome, and the Lord wished that this cup pass from Him. Our faith does not call us to suffer, however suffering is in us made by the sin rooted in us.

   What is Jesus calling us to do?. What does the church request from us in the midst of Lent, when the journey is still long, because life is full of fasting and the Golgotha is standing there, the whole length of our lifetime. Jesus tells us: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself”, what does these words mean in their essence?!. They mean that, first of all, man should purify himself from loving his possessions or whatever he wishes to possess. And denying himself means that he should deny his eyes, his ears, his hands, his feet… all his senses, he should deny all his belongings, his culture, his knowledge, and his beauty… therefore when looking at himself, he does not see anything in it, he feels he is nothing, instead he sees himself fighting the despicable “I” that is in him.

   But why should man fight himself?. It is not for the sake of “constraint” or “repression”, nor for patience, nor for us to yield to destiny. God does not request constraint or repression or patience for their sole purpose, but for man to fight himself and follow Him. But after what?... To where the Cross has been set up, to the heart of God, because God Himself is immolated for the Love He has for us. This is why we have put the Cross, surrounded by three lit candles, thus declaring that the Cross is in the Heart of God, in the Heart of the Trinity; and if we carry the Cross we march towards God’s Heart, we are in the depth of God. This is where we reside. We do not reside on the Cross. We conquer with the Cross reaching the depth of God, reaching the eternal light which we put on.

   Every believer today embraces the Cross, and whoever embraces It, gets a flower. The church has chosen this as a symbol telling us that if ever we are in God in His depth, we will get a flower, we will have joy, and peace will embrace us. We have been, from this instant, raised from the dead. Golgotha is not the end of our journey, because the Resurrection has burst from Golgotha. So if we consider ourselves to be buried in this life, the truth is that we are not as such buried, because as we taste the suffering of our existence, God raises us up from the Cross and delivers us from the nails. He bounds up our wounds and takes us in His arms pressing us to His Holy Chest and receives us with a kiss, symbolized by the flower that was given to us, and with it we taste the sweetness of Christ.

   If we get to understand this one moment in our lives, in a blessed lit moment, if we comprehend that Christ is enough for us, and we do not need food, nor money, nor health nor any honor from this worldly life, if we understand this in an instant, we reach the sky. Thus let us gird ourselves to walk on the path of salvation, foreseeing Easter coming with force to be saved by its power.

Metropolitan Georges (Khodr)