In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

As we progress week by week through the time of Great Lent, we have a tendency to begin to wear down. The fasting is tiring; the constant focus on our spiritual lives requires a lot of spiritual energy; everything that we’re exerting during these 40 days often leaves us feeling drained. The Church offers us a constant array of weekday services during Lent to help uplift and spiritually nourish us, but because of the way of life of the modern world, many of us aren’t able to take regular advantage of these opportunities. And so each Sunday of Lent, when all of us have the chance to enter the Temple and to pray and to commune and to be revitalized and encouraged in our Christian walk, the Church places before us a commemoration of inspiration.

On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, we were inspired to struggle with all diligence, like our Fathers did before us, in order to preserve the Faith unchanged, and pass it on to those who come after us. We were then inspired by the life of St. Gregory Palamas—an example of the great cloud of witnesses that surround us, interceding constantly before the throne of God for our salvation. All that we’re called to be, in Christ, is possible, the life of St. Gregory showed us. And this Sunday, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, we’re inspired by the vision of the Cross of our Lord standing in the midst of the Temple. This inspiration of the Cross, has multiple facets, two of which I’d like to mention this morning.

1-the Cross is set before us today to remind of the reality and the means of our salvation. Salvation is worked in the midst of the earth, the Scriptures say. When the Cross is raised on Golgotha, man’s salvation is consummated. We see in our iconography, not a beaten and defeated man dying on a Cross. But Christ, the Lord of Glory. And from the uplifted Cross, Christ says, “It if finished.” “All I have come to do is now accomplished, mankind’s salvation is complete.” All of the things that we do during Lent—fasting, prayers, services, hidden works of asceticism…none of these things offer us salvation. Salvation comes only through Christ, and only through His Cross. Our struggle during Lent is to place ourselves in the path of Christ. To bear the crosses the Lord has given us with the humility and the faith and resolve that Christ took to His Cross. When we place ourselves on the path of Christ, on the path of salvation, we find ourselves looking squarely at the Cross. This is God’s victory over sin and death and destruction—to turn on its head an instrument of torture, and make it the means of everlasting life.

2-the Cross is set before us today, and venerated for the strengthening of all the faithful, so that we can be inspired by the love of God for us. We venerate the means of our salvation in the wood of the Cross, and when we lovingly gaze at our Saviour outstretched upon the Tree, we have a small understanding of what it means when the Scripture tells us, “God so loved the world.” And we need to remember this love. Not so much to “pay it back,” not so much to think in terms of trying to ensure that God’s ultimate sacrifice would not be for nothing where we’re concerned. But we remember this love of God for us today so that we can be inspired. A God Who Is everything; a Being Who need nothing; yet still this God was (and is) so filled with self-less love for us (we have nothing to offer Him). This Love wanted our benefit, this Love wanted nothing more than simply to share Itself with us. And amid all the rejections on our part, God still came to earth, and in the most incomprehensible act in all of created History, the Author of All allowed Himself to be crucified on a Cross of Wood. So that we could have no doubt of the love of God for us. He held nothing back, not even His own life. There’s nothing we can do in return for this love. There’s nothing we can do to earn it. There’s nothing we can do to understand it, even. But by simply seeing the love of God for man, by being reminded of this love, we can be inspired in our lives to offer everything to the one who deigned to suffer for us.

Elder Porphyrios writes that to be a Christian a person must also be a poet. In other words, living a Christian life requires an inspired soul, we must want to create with our life. To create a masterpiece, a life well-pleasing to God. We live by the inspiration and the love and the presence of God. And we’re reminded of this all-inspiring love today, as we venerate the image of the Life-giving Cross, remembering both the material of our salvation, our path to this longed for salvation, and the great love of our Saviour.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!