суббота, 25 сентября 2010 г.

Exaltation of the Cross. Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                   Exaltation of the Cross
                     September 28, 1986

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

We  have  been  keeping  these days the Feast of the Exaltation of the
Cross.  There is a passage in the Gospel in which the Lord says to us,
«No  one  has  greater  love  than  he  who  gives  his  life  for his
neighbour». And these words resolve the antinomy between the horror of
the  Cross  and  the  glory of it, between death and the Resurrection.
There  is nothing more glorious, more awe-inspiring and wonderful than
to  love  and  to  be loved. And to be loved by God with all the life,
with  all  the death of the Only-Begotten Son, and to love one another
at  the  cost  of all our life and, if necessary, of our death is both
tragedy and mainly victory. In the Canon of the Liturgy we say, «Holy,
most  Holy art Thou and Thine Only-Begotten Son and Thine Holy Spirit!
Holy  and most Holy art Thou because Thou hast so loved Thy world that
Thou hast given Thine Only-Begotten Son that those who will believe in
Him  do  not  perish  but  have  life  eternal, Who hath come and hath
fulfilled  all that was appointed for our sakes, and in the night when
He  was  betrayed  - no! - when He gave Himself up, He took bread, and
brake it and gave it to His disciples ...»

This  is  the  divine  love. At times one can give one's own life more
easily  than  offer  unto death the person whom one loves beyond all -
and  this  is what God, our Father has done. But it does not make less
the  sacrifice  of Him who is sent unto death for the salvation of one
person or of the whole world.

And  so  when  we  think  of the Cross we must think of this strangely
inter-twined  mystery of tragedy and victory. The Cross, an instrument
of  infamous  death, of punitive death to which criminals were doomed,
because Christ's death was that of an innocent, and because this death
was a gift of self in an act of love - the Cross becomes victory.

This is why Saint Paul could say, «It is no longer I, it is Christ Who
lives  in  me  ...»  Divine  love filled him to the brim and therefore
there was no room for any other thought or feeling, any other approach
to  anyone apart from love, a love that gave itself unreservedly, love
sacrificial, love crucified, but love exulting in the joy of life.

And when we are told in today's Gospel, «Turn away from yourself, take
up  your  Cross,  Follow Me» (St Mark VIII: 34) - we are not called to
something  dark  and frightening; we are told by God: Open yourself to
love!  Do  not  remain a prisoner of your own self-centredness. Do not
be,  in  the  words  of  Theophane the Recluse, like a shaving of wood
which  is  rolled  around  its own emptiness. Open yourself up! Look -
there  is so much to love, there are so many to love! There is such an
infinity  of  ways in which love can be experienced, and fulfilled and
accomplished...  Open  yourself  and love - because this is the way of
the  Cross!  Not  the  way  which the two criminals trod together with
Christ to be punished for their crimes; but the wonderful way in which
giving oneself unreservedly, turning away from self, existing only for
the other, loving with all one's being so that one exists only for the
sake of the other - this is the Cross and the glory of the Cross.

So, when we venerate the Cross, when we think of Christ's crucifixion,
when  we  hear  the call of Christ to deny ourselves - and these words
simply  mean:  turn  away  from yourself! take up your cross! - we are
called  to  open  ourselves  to the flood of Love Divine, that is both
death to ourselves and openness to God , and to each, and to all.

In  the  beginning  of  the Gospel of Saint John we are told, «And the
Word  was  with God». The Greek version says «Godwards». The Word, the
Son had no other love, no other thought, no other movement but towards
the  Beloved  One, giving Himself to Him Who gave Himself perfectly to
Him.  Let  us  learn  the  glory  of  crucified  Love,  of  this  Love
sacrificial  which is in the words of the Old Testament, stronger than
death,  stronger  than  hell,  stronger  than all things because it is
Divine  Life  conquering  us  and poured through us onto all those who
need  to  be  loved  in  order to come to Life, to believe in Love and
themselves  to become children of Love, children of Light, inherit the
Life eternal. Amen.

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