As Orthodox Christians we all know how important the Cross is in our Faith. The Cross is the central fact of the Faith, it is not only where Christ was crucified, as we have heard in today's Gospel, but it is also where Christ is risen from the dead. It is also written elsewhere in the Gospels that by losing our life through the Cross, we save our life. In other words if we live for Christ, we will save our life. However, if we live for ourselves, we will lose our life. This is the law of our being and we can see it in all areas of human life.
The spoilt child who lives for himself will not share his toys. Thus he is lonely and bored, he has no-one to play with. His life is lost.
The spoilt man or woman who live for themselves will not share their lives. Thus they are lonely, separated or divorced and live singly and in futility. Their lives are lost.
The spoilt couple living for themselves refuse to have children; they want to make money in their careers. Thus they grow old and frustrated, it is too late to have children. Their lives are lost.
The spoilt rich living for themselves will not share their money. Thus they lie forgotten in the grave, their money taken by the government. Thus their futile lives have no-one to remember them and they contain nothing to be remembered for. Their lives are lost.
The spoilt people living for itself will not share its territory. Thus it lives beseiged because of its egoism, hated by its neighbours and all peoples. Its life is lost.
The spoilt dictator living for himself gains the whole world, controlling territories and peoples. Thus he is unloved, hated by all peoples in the prison of all peoples. His life is lost.
Live selfishly, and you will lose everything, your life will be lost in lonely boredom and you will die selfishly.
On the other hand, the history of the Church teaches us that the saints, who lived for Christ, were neither lonely nor bored, neither futile nor lost.
By living for the Cross of Christ, not only do they not taste of death at the Last Judgement, but even more, they do not taste of the spiritual death and loss of lonely and selfish pride. For, by living through the Cross, they taste of the Kingdom of God come with power, the resurrection of their souls, the Easter of the uplifted heart that comes with repentance, the exalted leap for joy that comes when we take up crosses, weaknesses, difficulties, destinies. Then crosses become instruments of victory, weapons of salvation, Exaltation, because we no longer lock ourselves up, selfishly giving nothing, but instead looking to others.
St John Chrysostom speaks of 'the sacrament of our neighbour'. In other words he means that salvation comes to us through others, the challenges and difficulties brought to us by others. Only the proud can imagine the fantasy that salvation comes from ourselves. Let us today go out and take up our crosses, and rejoice and exalt in them, for they have become through the power of Christ, the instruments of our salvation.