March 22nd will bring us to the Third Sunday of Great Lent, also called Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. This Sunday of Lent is closely paralleled to the feasts of the Veneration of the Cross (September 14) and the Procession of the Cross (August 1) and prepares not only of Our Lords Crucifixion, but it also reminds us that the whole of Lent is a period when we too are called to be crucified with Christ.
The Lenten Fast itself can be likened to the spring of Marah (Ex. 15:23, 24; Num. 33:8) whose waters the children of Israel encountered in the wilderness. This water was undrinkable due to its bitterness but became sweet when the Holy Prophet Moses dipped a piece of wood into its depth. Likewise, through the wood of the Cross Christ comforts us during our course through the desert of the Fast, guiding and leading us by His hand to the spiritual Jerusalem.
Moreover, the Holy Cross is often called the Tree of Life and has been placed in the middle of the Fast just as the ancient tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden of Eden. By this, we are reminded of Adam’s gluttony as well as the fact that through this ‘Tree’ (the Cross), condemnation has been overcome, and that for those who bind themselves to the Holy Cross, they shall never encounter death but shall inherit life eternal.
As we continue our journey through Great Lent having “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24) the precious and life-giving Cross is placed before us to refresh our souls and encourage us. To reminds us not only of the Passion of our Lord, but also to present to us His example, encouraging us to follow Him in struggle and sacrifice; remembering our Lord’s words, “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Mt.10:38).
In his “The Inner Voice of Love", the Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian Henri J. M. Nouwen writes; “Taking up your cross means, first of all, befriending your wounds and letting them reveal to you your own truth. There is great pain and suffering in the world. But the pain hardest to bear is your own. Once you have taken up that cross, you will be able to see clearly the crosses that others have to bear, and you will be able to reveal to them their own ways to joy, peace, and freedom"
Through the prayers of all our Holy fathers, O Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us