The symbolism of the cross, the reason why the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross is in the middle of the Lenten season, the conditions for being a good Christian are the main topics addressed by Patriarch Daniel in his homily on the third Sunday of Great Lent. In his sermon, the Romanian Patriarch urged everyone to make Christ the centre of their lives.
The Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church explained that as compared to the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14, the Gospel reading on the third Sunday of the Great Lent ‘does not refer to Christ’s crucifixion, but about the bearing of the cross by every Christian, about how we internalize the light and work of the Holy Cross in our spiritual life.’
The patriarch pointed to what is required to be good Christians: self-denial, the bearing or assuming of the cross, and the imitation of Christ.
Offering his reflection on self-denial, His Beatitude said that ‘it does not mean self-destruction, but the liberation from living selfishly.’
‘We usually live selfishly. We always think about gathering more wealth, glory, power, living better. But Christ tells us that we must deny ourselves in the sense of no longer being the focus of our attention; to free ourselves from the selfishness of excessive, exclusive self-interest and make Christ the centre of our lives.’
The Patriarch of Romania defined self-denial as ‘giving up the selfish, passionate way of living in oblivion of God and the people who need our help’ or in other words ‘the opening of one’s self for communion with God and the neighbours, the desire to live life as humble love for God and merciful love for others.’
Photography courtesy of Robert Nicolae/Basilica.ro