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September 13, 2020

Homily for the Sunday Before the Exaltation of the Honorable Cross (Archim. George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite Fr. George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery, Mount Athos

(Homily Delivered in 1981)

In the apostolic reading the apostle Paul says: "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. 6:14).

There were some Christians then who boasted about various worldly things. Some for their origin, others for their wealth, etc. And they also believed that they had to observe the customs of the Mosaic Law in order to be saved. They said that it is not enough to be a Christian and believe in Christ, and that there is no salvation without observing the formal provisions of the Mosaic Law, such as circumcision. These were the Judaizer Christians. The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians against these Judaizer Christians, as we read today.

The beliefs of the Judaizer Christians were condemned by the other Apostles, as well as the Apostolic Synod that took place in 48 AD. The apostle Paul writes that for me there is nothing in this world to boast about, except the Cross of Christ: "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ", and he adds: "by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." That is, for me through the Cross of Christ the world was despised and died and I died again towards every earthly thing.

Indeed, my brethren, what else can a Christian boast about but the Cross of Christ, to which all God's love for man is manifested? A God is crucified, nailed, died, dishonored on the Cross out of love for man. Christ is crucified for each person individually on the Cross. What a mystery of love! Man loses his mind in the face of this love of God and cannot even comprehend it, because of his sinfulness. That is why our only boast is the Cross of Christ. The Cross is for every Christian the only joy, the only hope, the only consolation, the only boast.

But let us not forget that for the sake of the Cross of our Lord we too must be crucified with Christ and die to our sins and the world, as the apostle Paul tells us today, that through the Cross of Christ "the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

Let us ask the Lord to help us feel the mystery of His Cross, as well as that of our Panagia, whom we celebrate as the prelude to universal joy, on the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. Our Panagia, the first after the Lord, experienced the mystery of the Cross of Christ. Hence, she is depicted standing next to the Cross of Christ. She is to the right of the Crucified Lord and Saint John the Theologian is to the left.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.