(Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-6)

Today, on this Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, the Church presents to us the Holy Cross of the Lord so that we may venerate it, gain strength, and continue the spiritual struggle until Pascha and beyond.

From the day Christ was crucified, The Cross became a holy symbol, holding numerous benefits for humanity.   A key element of the Cross is that it is the Sacrificial Altar, on which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, offers by His own free will and human nature a sacrifice to God the Father (acting as Most High Priest).

As Christians, we know that Jesus Christ, from the very moment that He appeared in the Virgin Mary’s womb, became the “Theanthropos,” God and Man.  Just as God can never die, so the divine nature is immortal. As a result, on the Cross, we see only His human nature crucified.

In this sense, the Lord, established by God the Father as the Most High Priest, offered the supreme sacrifice on the Cross.  We hear this today in the divinely inspired words of the Apostle Paul.  We know that this sacrifice of Himself is offered as “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1st Peter 1:19).   Since Christ has reconciled us with God the Father through His sacrifice, our blessing has been secured.  Additionally, when He ascended to the heavens, He did not leave helpless and abandoned. The “Theanthropos” (God-man) Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crossed the heavens and reached the very throne of God.  There, "standing on the right hand of the Father" (see the Symbol of Faith) as an eternal High Priest, He interceded and continues to intercede for us to God the Father. As Saint Paul writes, the High Priest has become a man like us, He has met our weaknesses, He has suffered much, and He has been tested in everything—all, of course, without sinning. 

That is why, when we speak to Him, we should fully share our weaknesses with Him, since He understands everything we are suffering.   Keeping this in mind, let us approach the throne of our Lord and God without fear, so that we may be refreshed and receive His grace always (see Hebrews 4:14-16).      

My brothers and sisters, it is natural for people to feel the weight of their sins.   The Apostle James is clear on this point when he says that “ we all stumble in many things.“ (James 3:2).   Being aware of this, however, should not take away peace in the soul.   Whatever we may have done as sinners, does not justify dwelling on these sins in frustration.   It is important not to misunderstand the words of some spiritual fathers, which results in a disordered focus on anguish for our sins to the exclusion of all else.  This cannot be reconciled with the words of Saint Paul:  "Rejoice in the Lord. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).   

Repentance of sins does not spring from depression, but from hope, peace, and joy.   Whatever we have done, be it large or small, is irrelevant in the face of this true repentance.  Thanks to the sacrifice of Christ, we are assured of salvation.  That is why the Greek speaking Holy Fathers of the Church used the word "charmolypi" to describe the condition our souls should be in.  This word, literally translated, means ''joyful sorrow.''  This sorrow (repentance) over our sins and the joyful hope of redemption, combined, overpower any of our sins and weaknesses.  There, at the right hand of the Father, is the Great High Priest Jesus Christ interceding for us.  He lovingly watches over us, and in our time of need He comes quickly to cover us with His grace.

Let us never allow depression and despair to keep us down.   With the power of the Holy Cross, let us bravely approach the throne of God, to draw upon God's grace for all we will ever need.  

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