To Love As God Loves and Who God Loves

In preparation for the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross, on the Sunday before the Feast the Gospel lesson is John 3:13-17 .

Moses SerpentThe Lord said, “ No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

 

Alexandre Kalomiros writes:

“God is love. If we really believe this truth, we know that God never hates, never punishes, never takes vengeance. As Abba Ammonas says,

‘Love never hates anyone, never reproves anyone, never condemns anyone, never grieves anyone, never abhors anyone, neither faithful nor infidel nor stranger nor sinner nor fornicator, nor anyone impure, but instead it is precisely sinners, and weak and negligent souls that it loves more, and feels pain for them and grieves and laments, and it feels sympathy for the wicked and sinners, more than for the good, imitating Christ Who called sinners, and ate and drank with them. For this reason, showing what real love is, He taught saying, “Become good and merciful like your Father in Heaven,” and as He rains on bad and good and makes the sun to rise on just and unjust alike, so also is the one who has real love, and has compassion and prays for all.’ ”

(The Ikon as Scripture, p 109)

The Cross: On Behalf of All and For All

On the Sunday before the Feast of the  Elevation of the Cross, the Epistle reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (6:11-18).

See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these try to compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386AD) says:

“Every action of Christ glorifies the Church, but the cross is the glory above all glory. Paul understood that well when he said: ‘I will glory in nothing else but the cross of Christ.’ (cf. Gal. 6:14) That a blind man should have been able to regain his sight by the pool of Siloam is certainly a marvelous fact. But what does this single episode add up to, when you think of the blind all over the world? The resurrection of Lazarus who had already been dead four days was a miraculous event, overcoming all the forces of nature. But this favor granted to him alone could not be any comfort to all those who had died through their own sin. It was a miracle to feed the five thousand with five loaves. But what use could that be for all the ignorant people starved of truth? The glory of the cross, by contrast, has enlightened all those who were blinded by ignorance. It has set free all those who were slaves of sin. It has redeemed the whole human race. Let us glory in the cross of the Savior. ‘The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ (1 Cor. 1: 18)”   (Drinking from the Hidden Fountain,  pp 397-398)