April 8, 2024

Homily One for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. John of Kronstadt)

By St. John of Kronstadt

To facilitate the feat of fasting, the Holy Church established the elevation of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord in the very middle of Lent. He who truly fasts must inevitably endure the sorrow of the flesh, the persistent struggle of the spirit against it, and, to top it all, the machinations of the devil, who acts on our soul through various thoughts that bring great sadness, especially to those who are not yet firm and imperfect in the Christian life.

May the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord, now carried for veneration and for heartfelt contemplation and kissing, comfort such fasters, and may their feat be made easier. May all those who do not fast with true fasting, and those who do not fast at all, not be deprived of its consolations. Let everyone come with faith and love, and let the Savior kiss him. May the divine Sufferer teach everyone from His Cross the important duty of a Christian - fasting and mortification of our sin-loving flesh.

Since the Cross itself evokes a word about love, we will now talk about the greatness of God’s love for us, revealed on the cross, in order to arouse in the cold hearts of Christians love for God and for a life worthy of a Christian. Indeed, what an abyss of love the Creator God expressed on the cross for His creation, man. Creator of heaven and earth; everything visible and invisible, He who shone in the sky the sun, the moon and countless stars; He who poured out the air for the breathing of all living things, who poured water over the face of the earth, who covers the whole earth with vegetation that bears fruit, grows and nourishes all living creatures, the only begotten Son of God deigned to become man to save man who fell by his own will from life to death. He endured the most painful suffering on the cross for him, and the most blasphemous death - so that His sufferings would be imputed to the just Father in heaven, as if the very own sufferings of all humanity of all times and places, and so that, thus, humanity devoted to Him with faith and love would be delivered from unimaginable eternal torment in hell, and from the second death.

A person with undarkened eyes of the heart, seeing such endless love of the great, omnipotent God for sinful man, cannot help but cry from the feeling of God’s boundless love and sheds tears of love and gratitude, not having anything to bring more than his tears to the One to whom our tears of love are dear. But how do most of us respond to such love of God? Insensibility, readiness to crucify the Son of God a second time with all possible vices, intensified servility to our sinful flesh, so that most of us, as if forgetting about the sufferings of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, live not at all for heaven and not for our souls, but for earth and for his body, and barely, according to the establishment of the Church, agrees to deny his flesh excess food and drink for only a few days.

Wherefore, we ourselves are moving away from our salvation by all means. The Savior suffered for us on the cross, but we do not want to know this suffering; He commanded us for our salvation to each take up our crosses and follow Him to heavenly glory, but we don’t even want to hear; He indicated to us as a medicine, the mortification of our flesh with its passions and lusts, but we try even harder to satisfy our passions, to fulfill our lusts. What? This will be the end. And we will be consumed by eternal fire, and we will not receive a single drop of refreshment in the flames of Gehenna - because here we had all possible refreshments, all possible pleasures for the sinful flesh. God forbid! Rather, for the sake of the cross, the One crucified on the cross still continues His mercies to us. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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