Gospel Reading September 18th (Mark 8:34-38, 9:1)
Sunday following the Elevation of the Cross
In Mark 8:34-38 Christ proclaims to the people and his disciples the salvific words: “whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 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” (v. 34-35). Here, Jesus teaches us the cost of discipleship: self-denial, carrying one’s cross (a symbol of our personal suffering) and obedience to Christ.
By saying, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross”, Jesus means we, as His followers, should strive through our own personal spiritual struggle to separate ourselves from our personal sins and put to death the evil inclinations of our heart. As disciples of Christ, we need to accept that the suffering in our life (our personal cross) is for our spiritual benefit, and that to make sacrifices for the sake of Christ and his kingdom is what ultimately brings our own salvation. We need to realise at a profoundly personal level that the very centre of our faith and our worship is the Cross: “this is My Body broken; this is My Blood, shed for the life of the whole world” (Mat 26:26-28).
The Cross says everything about God, everything about human life, everything about history, and everything about the deepest mysteries that are possible known to us. The Cross says everything because Christ is all and in all and nothing goes beyond this. If the Cross then communicates so much, some questions remain for us. What does the Cross tell us about how we are to live the remainder of our life given to us by God before we die? In what manner are we carrying our own personal cross? Are we carrying our personal cross with an Orthodox mindset? Have we self examined ourselves to even understand and see what this cross is? And then, have we realised we must also help others carry their cross? These questions should not frighten us, but embolden us on our journey, because Christ has already done the hard part. For God has worked salvation through His death and Resurrection in the midst of the earth.
Source: Lychnos August / September 2016