The Mystery of the Cross

Georgiy Velikanov wrote for the Pravoslavie.ru website for a long time. In January (2018) he sent a letter to the editors saying, “I have some new material, especially reflections on separate passages from Holy Scripture. I am sending an example of the genre I am currently working with... If you find it interesting and suitable for publication, I will send you some other articles. But, please publish them anonymously. I will soon send you another article; it is written in a different style (reflections on the Lord’s Prayer).” But soon we received the tragic news: Georgiy had died; he had fallen onto the tracks at a train station while saving a homeless man.

We have already published his article on the Lord’s Prayer and promised to publish the second one he sent us then on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross. That is what we are doing now.

    

If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together (Romans 8:17).

There is no human concern where Christ would not be.

If you are lonely and helpless, He is here with you. If deep darkness has fallen upon you and you do not know where to go, He is with you in your night.

If you are longing for revenge, if pain and resentment do not leave you, well, He can also share it with you. But not because had sought revenge or become angry. Because He had taken all these upon Himself—in the waters of the Jordan when He was baptized, in His everyday podvig of talking to people, but finally and irrevocably He did that on Golgotha. Every day Jesus rose up a great while before daylight (Mk. 1:35) to bear the burden of all those He would meet in His speechless conversation with the Father. Every day He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53: 4). And as many as touched Him were made perfectly whole (Mt. 14: 36), but they had no idea what it cost.

Any healing requires a sacrifice. If you are ready to lay down your life for anyone you are praying for, the Lord will hearken to your prayer.

But with men this is impossible (Mt. 19: 26). It gradually becomes possible as we share Christ’s podvig on the cross. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, and He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53: 7), yet His soul shouted to the Father with strong crying and tears (Heb. 5: 7).

Finally you are free and pure. Whatever your burden was—physical pain, emotional trauma or despondency of spirit that has lost the Lord—He has taken it upon Himself. But what is most important both in your night and in the very daylight is He Who said, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Mt. 27: 46) and received no answer, for it He was that the answer.

And now the Cross of the Only-begotten Son is forever imprinted on your soul. That is the final criterion. You may judge everything by it. If you do not know what to do, if there are many paths that are tempting and luring you, look at the Cross. Take the path where the Cross is lest you accidentally meet the Lord going to His second crucifixion instead of you, lest you find yourself amazed saying, “Quo vadis, Domine?”

All the saints always kept the memory of the Cross in their hears. Some people even say that the Crucifixion was literally imprinted on the heart of the holy martyr Ignatius of Antioch.

From there, from the Cross on Golgotha, a light breeze comes, a still small voice (1 Kings 19: 12), a cool wind of the Holy Spirit, and it calls breath to enter the dry bodies and the bones that have turned into ashes (cf. Ezekiel 37: 1-10). It feeds craving souls and instills life into everything that was lifeless. That Breath lives in your soul and body from the day of Baptism and Chrismation, your personal Pentecost; it is eager to guide and fill you to the full. But will you trust that Breath? Yes, taking new steps, you may lack confidence and remain timid for the rest of your life, but if you go forward holding the hand it has stretched out to you, following it step by step, you will even notice how that Breath will turn your life into a poem of love...

Then your fragility and weakness will become a window through which its Light penetrates. That Light will be a gift and will embrace you with God’s mercy, His forgiveness and love.

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love (John 15:10).

This is My commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you (cf. John 15:12, cf. 1 John 3:23). It sounds so easy to fulfill, but only if you give everything in return.

It is the heaviest, most terrible and unbearable burden to stand by the Cross with the Holy Theotokos and the beloved disciple, to stand by the Cross of all the sons of man, but I can do all things through Christ, Which strengthens me (Philippians 4:13), for He will bear that burden with me and instead of me. But only if I want it.

“Describing the Raising of Lazarus, the apostle John says that Christ groaned in the spirit (John 11:33). The only Mediator between the Lord and people, Jesus Christ, as a human had to share our earthly sufferings with us to raise us to the Heaven...

“I can also hear Him say, Now is My soul troubled (Jn. 12:27). But what do these words mean? How can You order that my soul follow You, if I behold Your own troubled? How can I endure what is found to be heavy by strength so great? What kind of foundation I can seek if the rock is giving way? But I hear in my own thoughts the Lord giving me an answer, saying, ‘You will feel better if you follow me, for I will always interpose between you and your suffering. You have heard the voice of My fortitude that talked to you; now hear the voice of My infirmity. I give you strength for your running; I am not a bother that prevents you from moving forward faster and faster. On the contrary, I take all your fears upon Myself and pave the way for your marching alone.’ O Lord, my Mediator, God above us, Man for us! I own Your mercy!” (St. Augustine, On the Gospel of John. 52:1-2).

Georgiy Velikanov
Translation by Maria Litzman

Pravoslavie.ru

3/31/2019

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