Yes, we've closed two weeks and are heading towards our Third Sunday of Lent. I love how the Church, in Her wisdom has brought the Cross to our attention. What a great reminder of why we are doing this.
Lent isn't a simple discipline or a diet. It is for salvation!
Look at the Gospel of Luke 9:22-26:
And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Lent is a time to look at what truly matters and to make daily life decisions that will draw us closer to Him. Are we looking to gain the world? There is no salvation in gaining the world!
Are we ashamed of God, enough to be embarrassed to ask for a vegan meal at a catered event or when we go out to eat? I am not saying we should announce to the world that we are fasting. It's just that if there is an option, we should take it.
And what about the struggles hunger brings. I think of those Snickers commercials where they talk about "hanger," when hunger induces anger. The tagline is “You are not you when you are hungry." But you know what? We are more ourselves because hunger reveals our passions. It brings them to the forefront so we can deal with them in a healthy way.
And in some ways, this is how our Cross is revealed to us. Is your cross Gluttony? Jealousy? Fear? Pride? When we remove ourselves from our comfort zone we see our faults more easily. We even see our strengths we didn’t know we had.
I encourage you to take time to see what your Cross is as we approach Sunday so that you can know your weaknesses and your strengths. Then you will have a more honest understanding of what we need to repent of.
Hymns for Sunday:
Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Let the Heavens rejoice; let earthly things be glad; for the Lord hath wrought might with His arm, He hath trampled upon death by death. The first-born of the dead hath He become. From the belly of Hades hath He delivered us, and hath granted great mercy to the world.
Apolytikion of Sun. of the Holy Cross in the First Tone
Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance, granting our rulers to prevail over adversaries, and protecting Your commonwealth by Your Cross.
Seasonal Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
To you, Theotokos, invincible Defender, having been delivered from peril, I, your city, dedicate the victory festival as a thank offering. In your irresistible might, keep me safe from all trials, that I may call out to you: "Hail, unwedded bride!"