Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Stumbling Block and Foolishness

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This feast is celebrated on this day in both the East and the West! T and I went to Divine Liturgy today at the Melkite Cathedral in West Roxbury. Although the chant melodies are completely different, and although the language is Greek and Aramaic instead of Slavonic, it was still the Liturgy of Our Father Among the Saints, John Chrysostom, and it was beautiful! The Gospel of today was John's account of the crucifixion: the crowd shouting "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!," Mary at the foot of the cross and being entrusted to the care of the disciple whom Jesus loved, the blood and water flowing from the pierced side of Christ. A sobering passage, so close to the start of the Byzantine liturgical year. The Epistle today was from I Corinthians (1:18-24)--explaining the true significance of this feast. "The message of the cross," St. Paul says, "is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." For "Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom," but, as the priest said today, the cross is a stumbling block to the Jews because they could not accept that their Messiah would be humiliated by suffering the death of a criminal; the Greeks saw it as foolishness because Christ's death is not logical--the Greek philosopher's god had no emotion, no love, and no self-sacrifice. And yet, "to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." Antiphon Prayer "O Christ God, who were nailed upon the Cross for our sake, purify us from our sins. Strengthen our faith. Fortify our hope. Inflame our hearts with love for your Cross. Make us temples of the Holy Spirit. For You are our Light and our Life and to You we render glory and to your Eternal Father and Your All-Holy, Good, and Life-Creating Spirit, now and always and forever."
We bow in worship before Your Cross, O Master, and we glorify Your Holy Resurrection.
Icon of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

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