Rejuvenating Feast

In my reading through the Gospel of Mark I came yesterday to the account of the crucifixion of our Lord. I wasn’t thinking at the time of how it was the eve of the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross, because I was soon on my way to yet another birthday party, this time to celebrate Laddie’s turning two.

Later, I thought about how appropriate it was that I contemplate Christ’s being forsaken by his Father, taking that cup of death and thereby conquering and destroying death, so that we can drink from the cup of joy, and have a feast. This is truly a spiritual feast, and not the kind where we delight in earthly food. And for that reason it’s set right here in the middle of the Lenten fast. The following is from our church bulletin.

ON THE CROSS:

As they who walk on a long and hard way and are bowed down by fatigue find great relief and strengthening under the cool shade of a  leafy tree, so do we find comfort, refreshment, and rejuvenation under the Life-giving Cross, which our Fathers “planted” on this Sunday.

Thus, we are fortified and enabled to continue our Lenten journey with a light step, rested and encouraged. Or, as before the arrival of the king, his royal standards, trophies, and emblems of victory come in procession and then the king himself appears in a triumphant parade, jubilant and rejoicing in his victory and filling those under him with joy, so does the Feast of the Cross precede the coming of our King, Jesus Christ. It warns us that He is about to proclaim His victory over death and appear to us in the glory of the Resurrection….

The present feast has been placed in the middle of Crucifixion wikimediaGreat Lent for another reason. The Fast can be likened to the spring of Marah 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 the wood into its depth. Likewise, the wood of the Cross sweetens the days of the Fast, which are bitter and often grievous because of our tears. Yet Christ comforts us…

Moreover, as the Holy Cross is called the Tree of Life, it is placed in the middle of the Fast, as the ancient tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden of Eden. By this, our Holy Fathers wished to remind us of Adam’s gluttony as well as the fact that through this Tree has condemnation been abolished. Therefore, if we bind ourselves to the Holy Cross, we shall never encounter death but shall inherit life eternal.

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