March 27, 2022

First Homily on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"We venerate Thy Cross, O Lord, and glorify Thy holy Resurrection."

At one time, Jesus Christ, having called the people with His disciples, said to them: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

On the day of Saint Alexis the Man of God, in my sermon, we said that in Jesus Christ we will find rest for our souls and that His teaching is for us the most joyful, soothing. Now we hear from Jesus Christ that we must deny ourselves and take up our cross, endure suffering in life, we must even be ready to lose our soul, that is, to die for the sake of Jesus Christ and the gospel, and never be ashamed of Jesus Christ in front of anyone, nor of His words, that is, not to be ashamed that we believe in Him, live and act according to His teachings.

How then, teaching thus, can Jesus Christ give rest to our souls? What kind of peace of soul will it be when we must also renounce, give up what we like, what we enjoy, and must do what is unpleasant for us, for the sake of Jesus Christ, for the sake of His teachings? However, then we will be truly calm when we live and act in this way, and not only after death, in the future life, but also here we will enjoy true peace.

Why does Jesus Christ teach us to deny ourselves, not to obey ourselves, not to fulfill our desires? Because for the most part we ourselves desire only sinful things. And the sinful always leaves in our soul anxiety, painful repentance. With sins, there can be no peace in the soul. Sins destroy him, make him suffer, live in misery. Yes, all troubles, all misfortunes, all sorts of illnesses and sighs - come from ourselves, from our sins, from the fulfillment of our wishes. And what would be on earth if we did not deny ourselves anything? What would this life be like if every person did not deny himself anything, as he wanted, as he pleases, if he acted, spoke, ordered at will? Then people would not be able to live, everyone would live as if in hell, the whole world would perish from itself, from its sins.

That is why Jesus Christ teaches that we must deny ourselves, not obey, not fulfill our desires, no matter how pleasant these are, no matter how sad it is to deny ourselves anything, no matter how painful it is. This is the only peace and salvation of our soul, so that we deny ourselves everything sinful.

How can this be done so that it is easy to deny oneself, it is easy not to listen, not to fulfill one's desires? We must not forget that we deny ourselves everything for the sake of Jesus Christ. That is, deny yourself everything with the thought of Jesus Christ. Do something holy, good, refuse something bad, sinful, and in your thoughts have Jesus Christ. For the sake of Christ, we give alms, that is, we give with the thought of Jesus Christ, we give to the poor, but we think about Jesus Christ, in our thoughts we have that we give to Jesus Christ. So we will do every work for the sake of Jesus Christ, that is, with the thought of Jesus Christ - and then it will be easy for us to do everything and everything will calm us down.

What special thought should we have about Jesus Christ when we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross? Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. Yes, Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. For what? Why is He crucified? For my sins and the sins of the whole world, so that the Lord forgives me. Yes, I hope for God's mercy on me, for mercy, because Jesus Christ, by His Blood, by His suffering, begged forgiveness from the Heavenly Father for me. If Jesus Christ had not died, had not shed His Blood, your sins would have remained on you forever and ever, you could not ask for forgiveness.

For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, it was necessary for salvation from sins to descend from Heaven, to suffer, to die. Keep this in your thoughts when you must renounce yourself, deny yourself sinful things, no matter how painful it is for you: Did not Jesus Christ endure such torments for your sins?

But remembering the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ, listeners, let us not forget His Resurrection. Jesus Christ, who endured torment, suffering, also resurrected in glory. If we, too, renounce sinful things, suffer, then we will rise again, revive in the spirit.

So, Lord, we venerate Your Cross, and we glorify Your Resurrection. Amen.