Fr Luke Sidarous – Vespers Feast of the Holy Cross – Sep 27, 2019

In the name of The Father, and The Son, and The Holy Spirit, One God, Amen. If the coming of Christ to the world and his incarnation is considered the greatest and holiest act in human history Even with Christ’s birth dividing time It is said “Before Christ (BC)” and And “After his birth (AD)” then the Cross which is the focus of the Christian faith. and the greatest event that took place in human history the biggest Godly act When Christ gave himself up on the Cross and saved the whole world of course the world fixated on the Cross it’s now been 2000 years How many books have been written about the Cross? Countless How many words and meditations of the fathers over the centuries an incredible thing. of course, everyone looked at the Cross from a point of view The theologians in studies and the… examinations and things that they do went in their own way The people talented in arts in drawing in icons the great fathers in homilies John of the Golden Mouth, Cyril the Great The ascetics in their place The Cross is life but… with all of this If one does not realize the Cross in their personal, private, and daily life Then he did nothing There is nothing more than thoughts But I wish for the cross to enter into the reality of the life I live daily. From the moment I wake up until the end of the day I don’t want anyone to remind me of the Cross I want to live the Cross. They say the Cross is love of course the greatest thing in the world is love eternal love “Greater love has no one than this: to lay one’s life down for his friends” (John 15:13) The pinnacle of love, is the Cross. But I must understand, that this is different from the world. What is love in the world? I love something so that I can take it, keep it. Like when a couple love each other, they want to take one another One loves a house, they buy it. One loves a car, loves something… they want to own it, a love of ownership A love of property, a selfish love. Do you call this love? What is the love of the Cross? It is a sacrificial love! He loved me and gave Himself up to die for me! Of course one shouldn’t lie to themselves we didn’t experience this as it should be. A sacrificial love; a love to give myself up for others to accept to die for them Of course, we didn’t taste this, like I said. I’ll talk about myself, we haven’t tasted this as we should. that I love to sacrifice. That I love to give! Give what? Give money? Give myself! This is huge Where is this commodity? It doesn’t exist in the world! Then where is it? Where is it sold? It isn’t present, except in the Cross. So anyone who believes in the Cross, and loves the Cross and accepts the Cross, They begin to taste this; they love to give. He loves to sacrifice himself He puts himself behind everyone In the history of the church, one of the Holy Fathers called Abba Agathon He would say to God: “God I wish…” One day he saw someone with leprosy “leprosy” It’s a terrible disease, God forbid. The person loses their extremities It blemishes the person, their hands fall, their nose falls, the ears… The person is difficult to look at. The Saint Abba Agathon said: “Lord, I wish to trade my body and give to a person like this.” Brother, where did he get this? When he accepted the Cross and loved it, This desire became present. That, like I said, we haven’t experienced. Why? because all day and in the life I live, I want to take. I wish to grow I wish to amass I wish to take But sacrifice with me is little They learn; where is the school? In the Cross! One must enter this school. In truth To attend it every day with consistency When we attended school, how did we go? We went one day and were absent 2 weeks. You’d fail. No. You go to school every day. And throughout all the years of education. I want to attend this school every day. So that, in this school, I can learn… the true love. Which is the love of sacrifice. Love of giving. Love of giving up oneself. What is torturing us in our lives? Ourselves! Selfishness! What is this Cross? “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions.” (Gal. 5:24) This is a school! Crucify my flesh with passions and desires. This needs work every day. This needs real work. People think that Christianity is just words. Why? because… the true entry into Christianity is absent from people’s minds. The theologians Or those educated in universities sit there and argue “Crucified for me”, “Crucified on behalf of me” this or that, Come on let’s argue…I don’t want this! I know that he was crucified for me and on behalf of me. I want to live this. The Cross isn’t a collection of ideas Never, it isn’t ideas. It isn’t an idea to give and take about. The Cross is life, the Cross is an experience, the Cross is a lifestyle. The Cross is training. How am I trained? I begin to taste the blessing of sacrifice and love. and decline my rights. but these are my Rights? And accepting oppression. What is this? It is written that Christ, Our Savior “Was oppressed… and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) That’s why I’m telling you that the cross is strange to the world. And it is necessary for us who believe in the Cross to take from this spring and enact it in our daily lives. The blessing…All of us we enter into a problem where one gets upset and can’t forgive, get upset and can’t forgive get angry and can’t forgive We entered this a lot Why? Because we became far from the Cross. What’s the Cross? The Cross is forgiveness of the crucifiers! Who did He forgive? He forgave those who nailed him with nails! Where do we get this? This isn’t a human capability. Of course it isn’t a human capability. No human can do it. Not even a level person or taught in a good home or people with nice manners It isn’t a human capability! Then who is capable? The one who was crucified on the Cross. Forgive the crucifiers? And ask on their behalf! What do you think? Have you ever tried to acquire this blessing? They say, “my Lord, I’m unable I am weak; my nature is bad. My heart changes quickly. I hold a grudge and I can’t forget it.” and with difficulty I say “Our Father and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those…” I just say it with my tongue. But when do you become a Christian? When you collect from the spring of the Cross; you drink from it and you begin to practice and you begin to pray for those who harm you with all your heart then you have begun to taste the Cross. That’s why I’m saying, is the Cross an Idea? Is the cross a doctrine? No, no, no. The Cross is life. The Cross is salvation. The Cross is freedom. Who can free me from the things that I’m enslaved by? Who? In the world there are many organizations. Say for example, addiction. Addiction, they say go to a hospital, go someplace… go to rehab where they’ll do something Okay, it’s temporary. Because when people sin, they are enslaved by sin. These are Christ’s words. Who can free from slavery? These organizations? Maybe. But this is something temporary. Who frees a person’s interior and heart? And cut their chains? Who? The Cross! “You have cut my chains so I have become a sacrifice or praise unto you.” “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”(John 8:36) That’s why I’m telling you, we celebrate the Cross Good. But we need to experience the Cross. Like this feast we are in one’s heart should be moved to say “Lord, Jesus I will start.” I’ve wasted years, I’ve wasted days I didn’t taste this grace of the Cross in it’s reality, nor have I experienced the Cross as I should in the life of a Christian. In the early centuries the very simple fathers The uneducated ones They experienced the Cross; it became their whole life. Eat, drink, sleep; the Cross is his life. And the women in the homes taught the children “the Cross, the Cross, the Cross” and they leaned upon it They believed in it and were sanctified by it. and it became the power of God. Of course! The Cross isn’t philosophy. The Cross, in terms of the world if they examine it mentally is foolish. When we evangelized the Cross, they called us fools Those learned Greeks. But the cross to us is the power of God! When we teach our kids we should say hold this…what is this? I tell him “this is the power of God!” this is the power of God! The Cross to us…the word “Cross” to us… To the Greeks it’s foolishness To the Jews it’s blasphemy but to us who are saved, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God. So when I give a child and let them hold the Cross and I instill in him the meaning; that he his holding the power of God! Can anything defeat it? One surrounded by the power of God. Can anyone hurt him? That’s why I say the cross is our power. If we live it. The cross is our freedom if we practice it. The Cross to us is the entire faith. If the Cross disappears from someone’s life then they have no faith. Not the possessive, mental Cross. But the Cross of life and daily practice…Glory be to God, forever. Amen.

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