Third Sunday of Lent - The Veneration of the Cross

March 22, 2020


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GOSPEL: Mark, 8,34-9,1

34When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37“Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

1And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”

HOMILY

In today's Gospel lesson Our Lord had some very explicit things to say about the cross that every Christian must bear. Jesus said this: "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." The cross of the Christian. This is our cross; your cross and mine.

It is clear from these words that each Christian has a cross to bear. You know, we don't mind the cross of Christ too much; it is His suffering, His pain, His agony, His anguish, His death. But when we mention our own cross, a cross that each of us must carry, well, frankly there are some people who want no part of it. But it is obvious from the words of Christ that we must be cross‑bearers, too.

Let's examine the Lord's words with some care:

A) "Whosoever will come after Me." The Lord here acknowledges that not everyone is going to want and choose to follow Him, to live His way of life. But the person who examines life and its meaning, death and its significance, and who wants to be a disciple of Jesus and follow Him, then the Lord tells this person what He expects of him ...

B) "Let him deny himself." Self‑denial. What an unpopular word this is today! We don't want to deny ourselves anything, we want to indulge in everything. By the concept of denial, Jesus meant to control all our evil inclinations and desires, and to deny or rid our-selves of all that leads to sin.

When we look into God's Book, which is like a mirror of life, we find plenty of examples of people who got into deep trouble because they refused to deny themselves their evil inclinations and desires. Cain didn't like his brother, Abel, and he refused to deny himself this hatred. He refused to get rid of it. Instead, he let it grow and grow, and finally this hatred became such a monster in him that Cain killed Abel. King David, a wonderful, pious man. He refused to deny himself the lust of the eyes, he refused to control in himself the lust of the flesh, and he committed grave sins before God and man. Judas refused to deny himself the love of gold and power and ended up betraying the Master for thirty pieces of silver and then taking his own life on a tree.

It is clear that to deny oneself isn't easy. It's hard. In fact, this is