April 9, 2024

Homily Two on the Sunday of the Cross: The Passion of the Savior

Homily Two on the Sunday of the Cross

The Passion of the Savior

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1962)

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

"Oh, that my grief were fully weighed, and my calamity laid with it on the scales! For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea" (Job 6:2-3).

So severe were the sufferings and illnesses of the great Old Testament sufferer - the righteous Job! But immeasurably harder and more terrible than the suffering of Job was the suffering of that great Man of suffering, of whom Job was only a prototype—the suffering of our Redeemer, the God-man Lord Jesus Christ. Everything that could make suffering unbearably cruel and impart unbearable severity to it - everything was united in the torment of the Sufferer of Golgotha.

The most shameful and cruel sufferings and torments of the body and the most terrible sufferings of the soul - this is what made up that cross, unique in its weight, which only the Lord of Glory, Incarnate for the sake of our salvation, could lift onto His shoulder. All His merits, good deeds, and Divine dignity were brazenly trampled upon and desecrated. Evil enemies not only proclaimed Him a deceiver, but also subjected Him to all the shame and reproach befitting a deceiver, surrounding Him, for all the more ridicule, with a certain caustic semblance of royal honors.

The Holiest of Holies, the Judge of the entire universe, the greatest Benefactor of the human race stands as a criminal before unjust judges - His creations and servants - and is condemned! The crown of thorns is placed on the head of the King of all creation, who so wonderfully decorated the whole earth with beautiful and lush flowers. The King is clothed in false scarlet, He who covers Himself with light as like a garment (Ps. 103:2) and covers the heavens with clouds (cf. Ps. 146:8). He takes a rod into His hands for reproach, as if it were a king’s, and endures being beaten on the head with the rod.

He, before Whom the six-winged Seraphim hide their faces, at Whom the ranks of angels do not dare to look, endures beating, slaps on the cheeks, and spitting on from vile lips. The sweetest Jesus, the King of glory and Lord, sitting on the Cherubim, ascends to the throne of reproach - the Cross - and suffers ridicule, blasphemy and reproach from His treacherous and rebellious enemies. He who saturates the whole earth with water thirsts and with His pierced rib saturates the soil. Can there be any comparison with His Divine dignity and the position in which His rebellious slaves and servants placed Him?!

The severity of the sufferings endured by the Lord our Savior was not limited to the most shameful and humiliating insults. No. To these were added the terrible bodily sufferings resulting from the unbearable pain of the flesh. Almost every member of His body was subjected to its own special suffering, all members of Him suffered. His most holy head was wounded with thorns, and beaten with reeds; His most holy face was spit upon and bruised. His shoulders were covered with the wounds of scourging. On His hands and feet burned the wounds of nails (John 20:25). His taste suffered from the bitterness of gall, and His rib from being pierced by a spear.

However, no matter how severe the suffering from the wounds covering His holy body were, they were nothing in comparison with the most terrible suffering of the whole body that occurred from the crucifixion.

“I am poured out like water,” says the prophet David, as if he was the Sufferer of Golgotha, “and all My bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it has melted within Me.” Because My strength has become weak, and My tongue has clung to My throat, and You have brought Me into the dust of death (cf. Ps. 21:15 and 16). The Savior's strength has dried up, just as unstable water overflows and disappears. The bones protruded from their places due to the stretch of the body on the Cross. The insides glowed from an internal fire, like wax melting from a flame. His strong, blooming body dried up. The tongue stuck to the larynx from painful dryness. By the force of His gravity, the Lord’s body was drawn to the earth, which is why the wounds and piercings of the nails (John 20:25) were constantly expanded, not giving Him peace for a minute... God, our God, how hard it is to sympathize with You, how hard it was for You to suffer!

The torments of the Divine Sufferer were aggravated by His awareness of His innocence. Reviewing His life, realizing His perfect sinlessness and holiness, remembering the countless benefits shown to people, and seeing their ingratitude and unrighteous retribution for all this, how He must have grieved, what sorrow His loving heart must have felt! The severity of His suffering was increased by the fact that His crucifixion was demanded not by pagans, not by foreign people, but by His fellow Jews, who enjoyed His innumerable mercies and bounties.

His soul grieved that one of His chosen disciples, Judas, appeared as His betrayer, who through deceit and flattery through a kiss gave His Teacher into the hands of enemies. The suffering of the God-man on the Cross did not meet with human sympathy and compassion; on the contrary, anger, frantic gloating and ridicule accompanied His terrible agony on the cross.

Only three courageous women, inspired by love for the Sufferer - the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mary of Cleopas and Mary Magdalene - and the beloved disciple stood at His Cross and looked at His suffering and death. The rest of the disciples ran away out of fear, the most ardent of them - Peter - denied Him. The Heavenly Father Himself leaves His beloved Son, and a cry breaks out from His lips: "My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).

Why did the Lord endure such severe suffering? In order to appease the Justice of God with them and prepare for us all the means for our salvation, to leave us with His image in suffering, so that we may follow Him! Jesus Christ, having taken upon Himself the great task of saving the human race, voluntarily gave Himself to all torment and suffering and did not retreat from them. Likewise, each of us must serve for our own good and salvation, as well as for the good and salvation of our neighbors, with complete selflessness, giving ourselves to all labor, danger and even death. Only in this case will we follow in the footsteps of the God-man, Who stood for His cause until he bled to death.

He who cares more about his peace, security and tranquility than about his service will never accomplish the feat that befits a true servant of Christ, and will not bring true benefit with his service. You should not, you should not, my dears, value your blood for the good of your neighbors! For only the blood of the faithful servants of Christ - the holy Apostles, martyrs and passion-bearers, which nourished the moral soil of the earth, brought God abundant fruits.

Let everyone be ready to stand until they bleed for a holy and just cause, for the holy Divine teaching, defending truth and righteousness from their persecutors. The Lord Jesus Christ in His suffering showed complete submission to the will of the Heavenly Father and the greatest kindness. He not only did not hate His crucifiers, but also prayed to the Father for them, saying: "Father! forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). With such devotion to the will of God, with such kindness towards our enemies, we must endure our suffering. We know the severity of the Savior’s suffering, but we also know the glory that God the Father gave Him for these sufferings.

Our Lord Jesus Christ "humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:8-11). Likewise, everyone who suffers torments and suffering for the sake of truth and righteousness will have a glorious end. For "many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all" (Ps. 33:20).

Lord, help us to carry our cross and stand for a holy, God-pleasing cause to the end, without fear of death and blood, so that we may cry to You: Jesus, Son of God, remember us when You come in Your Kingdom. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *