The Prelate’s Sermon October 24, 2021
Today, on the seventh Sunday of the Feast of the Holy Cross, according to the Armenian Church calendar, we are celebrating the Feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross. This is the crowning of the celebrations of the Cross, within the cycle of an entire calendar year. The Apostolic Churches owe this important feast to Queen Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine. In 327, the Queen, who was in her mid-70’s, set out on a long journey to Jerusalem, where after a series of inquiries and a miracle, she discovered the actual Cross upon which Jesus Christ had been crucified.
The Church Fathers have highly revered the Cross within the context of our Redemption. I would like to share the following thoughts on this occasion.
- By celebrating the feast of the Holy Cross for four times in the Armenian Church, and three times in the Church Universal, we are encouraged to think that the Cross, as much as it transmits the message of God’s love toward mankind, reminds us of the suffering endured for the sake of our fallen nature. If it is possible to measure our earthly life which starts from the womb of our mother and comes to its end into the womb of the earth, suffering is manifested on all levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, and often occupies more of our time than joy does. Yet, it is true that the deeper the valleys the higher the mountains; hence, the more that we speculate on the grave nature of our sins, failures, and short-comings due to our disobedience to God’s commandment, the more we witness the infinity of God’s care, understanding, and forgiveness through the obedience of His only Begotten Son. On the Cross, mankind, as the prodigal son, and the heavenly Father embrace each other.
- Today’s feast is a celebration not only to commemorate an event which happened 17 centuries ago, but also to reevaluate its importance in our life today. Queen Helena set out on a long journey to discover the Cross, the tangible sign of the Divine mission. As earthly creatures, everyone has their own dreams to fulfil in this life: to have the best education, career, family, friends, etc. All these are commendable, for Creation was destined to be good from the beginning. Yet, there is an essential goal to achieve which has an existential value. Do we search for our own cross in our life’s journey both while enjoying all the good things and while going through tribulation? To discover our individual cross is not just an event but it is the supreme bliss that makes us authentic children of God, and vitalizes us at each circumstance, sweet or bitter, to handle them with God’s care and guidance. Saint Paul’s testimony is so eloquent when he says, “We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well unknown; as dying, and see we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor 6:8-10).
- To discover our own cross neither makes us a hero or a victim; rather, it grants us the insight to humbly acknowledge facts that are beyond our control yet make us conscious that with the Supreme Controller we can come out of any situation with more positive results just as gold is refined through a furnace of fire. The saints of all ages are the best testimony of this truth.The feast of the Discovery of the Holy Cross points to the discovery the Crucified One just as the compass always points to the true North. Being the Altar of the Sacrificial Lamb, the Cross invites us all to partake of the Holy Communion, the Source of all bliss, to discover our authentic identity, renew our interrupted yet reestablished relationship with God in Jesus Christ, and to continue our mission as the children and co-workers of the Creator and the heavenly Father. This is why the Apostle boldly says, “the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).
Having discovered the Power Plant revealed on the Holy Cross that supplies “Life, Hope of Resurrection, forgiveness and expiations of sins”, as the celebrant heralds preceding the Holy Communion, and confessing Jesus as “the only Holy, the only Lord”, let us all gratefully and joyfully bow down in our hearts, cross ourselves in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and praise the All-Holy Trinity. Amen.