School Chaplain Message
In the month of September our Church celebrates the great feast of the universal exaltation of the Holy and Life-giving Cross. A time when we remember not only the historical finding of Christ’s cross and its later exaltation in Jerusalem but its spiritual significance in our lives.
The Gospel reading for the Sunday after the feast of the cross is Mark 8:34 – 9:1
It is offered below for your reflection:
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”
When we want to follow Christ, there are three ways that indicate we have chosen this path. The first is self-denial. It means first and foremost that we do not put our will above God’s will, but we view our lives in relation to our fellow human person and are willing to back down from our desires. The second way is the willing and voluntary lifting of our cross, that is, our decision to remain firm before life’s difficulties. The third way is to become integrated into the life of the Church, because only there do we truly follow Christ.
We Orthodox Christians have a blessed practice: we make the sign of the cross when we wake up, before we sleep, before we eat, before we start to work, when we pass outside a Church, when we stand before an icon, when we go through a trial. We seal our bodies and give hope to our souls with the sign of the Cross, because we know that this is the true path and only way. Just as Christ ascended upon the cursed wood of the cross and turned it into the tree of life, so we, willingly, make the sign of the cross to show that we follow the God of humility, forgiveness, and love. The Cross unites us. And Christ redeems us, because He makes our burdens lighter, by being present every moment of our lives. Christ offers us the true meaning of life which is that although He passed through death, death was abolished, and He leads us to the resurrection.
Father Dimitrios Papaikonomou