Archdiocese News - The Sunday after the Elevation of the Holy Cross. [English/Arabic]

[Arabic Version

What the Cross stands for?

The Cross stands for man’s salvations. It stands for Pardon, for God’s infinite love. But all those, in order to become real, they need response from the believers. The Cross must becomes “our own! if anyone will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”.

We take our cross and follow Him because He first took up a cross for us.
Is there a cross in every one of us live? How willing are we to follow Him today? How willing are we to obey Him in the midst of all the pressure which we encounter?
How willing are we to overcome habits deeply rooted in our every day live and cause scandal to many?

St. Paul tells us: “I am crucified with Christ, I die daily, not a physical death but a death to selfishness and sins”. Are we willing to bear a such cross? A cross in our hearts, our giving, in the services. The cross in the church or around our neck or in our home will mean nothing unless it is also in our lives.

A communist leader once asked a young man who wished to join the Communist Youth
Movement: “Do you know what awaits you?”                                                                                        
“Yes, I know”, replied the youth.                                                                                     
The leader: “cold, hunger, contempt, abuse, prison, disease and death”.                          
“I know replied the youth”. “I am ready. I shall endure them all”.

What do we Christians have today to match that communist spirit of self-sacrifice? Can we outthink, outlive and out die” that spirit as did the first Christians and many others after them? Or have we saturated with jealousy, love of comfort, superficiality, ease that we lack the necessary strength and stamina to overcome? The only kind of Christianity that can hope to win the world is Christianity with a cross at its heart, the cross of Jesus Christ, and that cross is the symbol of sacrifice into death.

Is the cross missing today from our everyday lives? Is the cross just an ornament, just a sign with which we bless ourselves mechanically? Has it ceased to be symbol of our sacrifice for Christ? Has there ceased to be a cross in our giving? in our serving? in our living?

It was the year 156 A.D. Mobs prawl through the streets of Smyrna. “Away with the Christians” they shout. “They are dangerous people! They refuse to burn incense to the Emperor. Get Polycarp the Christian Bishop before the Roman guard gets him and throws him to the Beasts”.

They arrested Polycarp. They brought him to the court. An officer approached him and whisper in his ear: “have some regard for your age, swear faith to Cesar and be spared all these torture”. Polycarp answered: “Eighty six years I have been His slave, and He has done me no wrong nor denied me. How can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?”
Polycarp was burned at the stake, just before the fire is lit, he prayed. He became one of the well known Martyr of the Church of Jesus Christ.

As a Bishop and Faithful Member of the Church of Jesus Christ, Polycarp carried the Cross of Christ, around his neck, and in his heart. He carried it faithfully until the very end of his life when he exchanged it for a Crown of Glory in God’s Kingdom.                                                             

From the Office of the Antiochian Archdiocese.

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