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Sunday after Exaltation

Sunday Gospel Mark 8, 34-9, 1

Today we celebrate the Sunday after the Exaltation of the precious and Life-giving Cross. On Friday we’ve celebrated this feast and solemnly carried the Cross and placed It on the tetrapod to be able to contemplate and worship It; to be able to open our eyes and see and understand God’s greatness, which the Cross is for us.

On Friday we read the Epistle where St. Paul says that the word of the cross is a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but for us who believe – God’s power and wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 1, 18-24).

In today’s Gospel Christ says some simple words. He says: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8, 34). Simple words… but how hard is to fulfil them in our lives.

The last few Sundays we reflected on the Gospels where Jesus gave us answers on who receives eternal life. Last Sunday we heard that Christ said: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3, 16). And today we heard Christ’s words that said that if we would like to follow Him we need to take up our crosses and follow Him. Christ said it not to oppress us or to put on our shoulders something that we cannot endure, but to show us that if we really would like to follow Christ we should aim to spend our lives showing that we do.

Very often we have different sufferings in our lives, various troubles, health problems and many of that brings us some troubles. And we start to murmur and say how everything is bad and no good, and I’m so holy… why is it happening to me… And now look on Christ’s life. He was born in a squalid manger. From the beginning of His life He was persecuted and Herod tried to kill Him. He needed to escape with His parents to Egypt. When he started preaching there were those who wanted to kill Him and at the end they arrested Him and given Him up for crucifixion. And He voluntary submitted to the cross. How much did Jesus suffer for us? He showed that this His call is not just empty words. Christ invites us to become His disciples and follow Him but does not tell us that we will have a lot of money, fame or position in society. But He says that it will be hard… He tells us the truth. But also, He shows us that His words are not something fictional, but something possible… By His own life He showed how it is to take up your cross and carry it through your whole life. But after His crucifixion He arose and gives us eternal life, grants us His help and support that we be able to pass through any burdens and troubles which arise in our lives.

Christ says: "For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it” (Mark 8, 35). These seem to be strange words… how can it be possible to live and to save something we should lose and destroy it? It's very simple… because if we would like to live with God we should lose our "I”, our "ego”. Our "I” should not be at the first place in our lives, rather that position should be God's. And when it will be like that we will save our souls and not lose them. It is not easy, because our ambitions, our desires often prevail in our lives. We ask God about many things and then complain if we don’t receive them. Let us just think about what we ask God. Do we ask for good things or just what "I” want? If we ask just what "I” want, where is God in our lives? Does He become like a servant to fulfil all our wishes? Or is He our God who grants us life and invite us to this life?

So I would like to wish all of us on this Sunday that through contemplating the Lord’s Cross, worshipping and kissing it, we would be able to – with God’s help - pass through all troubles in our lives; to never be ashamed to be Christians. Christ says: "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8, 38). If we are Christians just on Sunday during the Liturgy, what happen next? God calls us to be Christians everywhere and every moment of our lives. Wherever we are… at home with family, at the work, with friends, at street, at store… God calls us to witness who we are.

So I wish each of us to draw power and strength from this Life-giving Cross to be able to pass all difficulties and witness the living God who grants life to all people; and to live with God every moment of our lives, which He gives us here on Earth and then for ever in Heaven. Amen.

Fr. Andriy Mykytyuk

Category: Sermons | Added by: abat (2013-10-04)
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