September 15, 2022

Homily One for 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)
We celebrate the Universal Exaltation of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross of our Lord. And while today is a day of remembrance for the Church of the crucifixion Passion of the Redeemer, we nevertheless have a certain joy. And this joy is due to the fact that the Crucifixion of the Lord and the Cross, the instrument on which the horrible but simultaneous life-giving death of our Redeemer took place, is at the same time the glory of the Lord.

You will remember, when the Lord was walking towards the crucifixion Passion, He said the words: "Now the Son of man is glorified" (Jn. 13:31). From a human point of view, death on the cross was a disgrace, it was the ultimate humiliation and contempt of man.

But in the divine perspective it was the greatest glory of the incarnate Son of God, which glory prepared for the other glory of His glorious Resurrection. Therefore, because the Lord suffers on the Cross, but is also glorified by His suffering, that is why the Church, even on Great Friday, even today, can celebrate the Cross of the Lord in light of the resurrection, joyfully, with this joyful-sorrow and the crucifixion-resurrection ethos and attitude that characterizes our Orthodox faith and piety, which springs from the gospel of our Christ.

But also the second reason for which we are joyful today, is that through our participation in this celebration we too deserve, despite the sinfulness and weakness and necrosis of our spiritual senses, to become somewhat intoxicated in this mystery of the death on the Cross and of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord. Because this is the Grace of God and of our Holy Church, that within our Orthodox and Apostolic Church the feasts are not something outside of us, they are not a historical or psychological memory, but above all they are a sharing and participation in the events and persons ceremonialized and celebrated.

I think we always feel, and tonight especially, that the Cross of Christ is the basis of our Christian existence. It is not possible to be a Christian, if one does not live in one's being, in oneself, the Cross of the Lord, which, as we said, is always experienced in Orthodoxy with the perspective of the Resurrection.

We wish everyone to be helped by the Grace of the Honorable and Life-giving Cross today, so that they too can delve into this mystery of the Cross, which is the center of our faith, our Christian life, and to think if it is possible for there to be truth in the world outside the Cross of Christ.

Of course the world promises that there is truth outside of the Cross of Christ. But the experience of two thousand years of the Church of God, of the Saints of God and of the falls and dramas that the world has experienced and that continues to this day - because the world, not accepting the Cross of Christ, is living a great drama, the drama of the impasse of its selfishness – so this experience confirms that there is no truth about life outside of the Cross of Christ.

But this is something for which one must - and may God enlighten him to understand it, but also want to - take a spiritual responsibility in life. Because, if man does not take responsibility, if he does not want to see things determined to bear the consequences of the truth, no matter how much they cost him, then of course he cannot accept the Cross of Christ. Because the Cross of Christ creates responsibility in man. God with His Cross has a demand from man. And if man does not accept God's demand through the Cross of His Son, he can neither accept the Cross of Christ nor understand the meaning of the Cross of Christ, and then he lives an irresponsible life, without meaning and without a cross, but at the same time life without Grace and without joy and resurrection.

And I think this is in general the drama of modern man today, who has no joy, because he does not have the Resurrection of Christ. And it does not have the Resurrection of Christ, because he does not have the Cross of Christ. And he does not have the Cross of Christ, because he does not want to take responsibility for the subject of the Lord's Cross, the subject of faith.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.