Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada


16th Sunday after Pentecost. Exaltation of the Life-giving Cross

It is not unusual to hear people complain about how bad things are in the world. There are exceptions. There are some people who are always looking for something good to say, something to be thankful for, something to celebrate about. Sometimes such people are called naive. There used to be a term for them: Polly annas. That sounds like a parrot. Maybe the words of such perennial optimists sound to some like the mindless repetitions of this amazing bird who sounds so human but is not.

Jesus was not naive. He spoke of the world in harsh-sounding terms. He said the people of His day (and this applies to our day as well) were "an evil and adulterous generation". He spoke of judgement and punishment. Yet He did not give up us. On the contrary. He is our true friend. He tells it like it is and His love is not pretense. We know this because He died for us.

We are venerating the Cross today in honour of its finding in Jerusalem in the fourth century by Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. We see Jesus dead upon it. We are reminded that it was not tragic destiny that overtook Him. He willingly accepted this painful and humiliating transition from the visible world to the invisible because of His love for us. He could have used the considerable talent and force He possessed to overpower those who opposed Him. He could have roused thousands to fight for Him. He said He could command a huge multitude of angels as well. But He did not.

His argument was: "Do your worst. I love you." And it worked! At the very moment of His death, the centurion, Longinus, who was in charge of His crucifixion was won to be His follower. To this day one of the most powerful motivations for people to serve others, to forgive and to sacrifice their lives is the love that they have caught - reflected from the Cross.

One candle lights another. The love of Christ blazing with world-consuming brilliance from the Cross lights millions of other souls. Does it light your soul, sweet brother, sweet sister? Have you considered that suffering, victorious Love that raised Adam and Eve from the grave? Have you noted that soul-inflaming conflagration that transformed bigots into lovers, prostitutes and thieves into wholesome beings? Look to the Cross. Open your eyes. Let it light your life and make it another candle to illuminate the darkness in the world.

V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash