With this Sunday we find ourselves in the middle of the period of the Holy Great Lent. During the service, the Church puts on view the Holy Cross of the Lord and invites us to venerate it with reverence and faith so that we may benefit from its grace and strength to stay put in our spiritual struggle that we are undergoing at this time of the liturgical year.
The words spoken in this passage may seem very hard. If we want to follow Jesus and be with Him, we too, with faith, have to lift our own cross. Yes, this is difficult and painful but it has a satisfying outcome and that is our own salvation, our resurrection into the real eternal life. The course is hard, but in exchange, greater and certain is the gain, since it is guaranteed and uttered by the flawless mouth of God.
Our time is controlled by worldly ways of thinking, it isn’t familiar with the teachings of the Gospel moreover it rejects them, choosing to ignore the spiritual struggle and to adopt and follow the easy path that satisfies its needs, passions, comfort and ego. Spirituality is replaced by profanity, love and self-denial by egocentrism, trespassing and stepping on others, the heavenly and the eternal by the earthly and the ephemeral, a God given glory by human given fame and the essence by emptiness and void.
But what does it mean to «deny one’s self» that Jesus urges us to do in the passage that we’ve just heard? It means two things; my old self dies and that means I deny myself my old will, desires and passions and I stand still and firm in front of every temptation and never bow again to any sinful act.
To deny our ego and ourselves is the greatest cross that we can ever bear in our life.
Our Lord teaches us that we save what we give away and that we lose what we hold on to that will eventually rotten in the lockers of our own soul where it doesn’t see the Light and the Breath of Christ. Even when someone gains the whole world and claim it as his own, it becomes completely useless for him when someone loses his own soul, his own self, because he becomes attached to, bound to and even trapped in endless usages and needs.
Anyone who wants to be a disciple of the Lord will, sooner or later, openly confesses his faith and automatically differs and distinguishes from others. Modern people ironically talk about the soul and its salvation, they consider any conversation of the sort as a fantasy and a waste of time for nothing. We need to realize that in our course of life we need more positive thinking that comes from others and encourages us as much as food sustains our bodies and satisfies our hunger.
Back to the ancient times and even before the coming of our Lord, the cross held a very cruel, atrocious and specific meanings like persecution, rejection and humiliation, it was also an instrument of torture, condemnation and horrible death. Today we have the opportunity to consider the cross as a symbol of our salvation from our ego and passions as long as we do what Jesus demands of us and that we deny the evil that dwells in ourselves.