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April 7, 2021

Second Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

Yesterday in Matins we brought out for veneration the honorable Cross of Christ. We all reverently sang the troparion: "We venerate your Cross, Master, and we glorify your Holy Resurrection," and we venerated the honorable Cross of our Lord. The veneration of the honorable Cross of Christ is very important because it testifies to our faith and the warm love we have for the Son of God who saved us from the power of the devil.

But there is another purpose for which in the middle of Great Lent we place for veneration the honorable Cross of Christ. This purpose is understood when we read the word of the Lord which says: "In your patience you will gain your souls" (Luke 21:19). If, according to this word of Christ, patience is so important that it saves man, then one of the most important goals in our lives is to learn patience. And there is no better teacher who could teach us patience than the Cross of our Christ.

If we will have the Cross of the Lord engraved in our hearts, if we will be moved by reading every day the words of the Creed: "Crucified for us under Pontius Pilate", if in every difficulty and sorrow sent to us by God we will mentally see the Cross of Christ, then we will learn how we can gain patience.

If you have terrible pain that torments you and you can no longer endure, look at the Cross, look at the Son of God with his head bowed wearing the crown of thorns. Think how many times this head was struck, think of the pain caused by the thorns in our Savior and you will learn to endure your pain.

Your hands are weak, they can no longer do work and that is why you lost your courage? See the immaculate hands of Christ with which He performed countless miracles, with a single touch of which He brought the dead back to life and opened the eyes of the congenitally blind and for this reason now is nailed to the Cross. Imagine the pain of these immaculate hands of the Lord Jesus, wounded with nails, holding the weight of the body. Remember at the same time your own disgusting things that you did with these weak hands of yours. Think about all this and it will be easier for you to endure the pain.

Are you in prison and your feet are chained not for crimes but for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? See His immaculate feet with which He walked on the waters of Lake Gennesaret and went to Bethany to resurrect the four-day-dead Lazarus. These now the servants of the devil nailed to the Cross. When you think about it, it will be easier for you to endure your shackles.

Did you lose your sight? It was God's will. Remember that after the last word "It is finished", which our Lord Jesus Christ said on the Cross, the hand of death closed His eyes which are brighter than the sun and with gratitude you will bear the burden of blindness. 
Remember that besides the terrible sufferings that the Son of God suffered on the Cross, He also bore the burden of the sins of the whole world. Remember also that one of the soldiers pierced His side with the spear and immediately blood and water came out with which your sins were washed away and which protect you from the attacks of the enemy.

Do you see, then, how with the Cross of Christ your patience increases? Do you see that you are taught from the Cross this great virtue of patience without which you will not be able to enter through the narrow gate and follow the long and crooked path of sorrows that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven?

Let us glorify and thank our Great God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ, Who with His awesome Cross gives us the strength to endure countless sorrows in this temporary life of ours and to patiently save our souls. Let us sing once more: "We venerate your Cross, Master, and we glorify your Holy Resurrection." Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.