Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church - Sobornopravna

LENTEN REFLECTIONS

by the Rt. Rev. Canon, Father John Tokarick,
Protosyncellus - Archeparchy of Cleveland

Jesus Carrying the Cross

Third Week of Lent - 2004

THE CROSS

Avoid it or embrace it, quietly carry it or loudly complain, one thing is certain - THE CROSS!

We all have one...maybe more than one. St.Paul says "You who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His Death." But why? What's the point?

Our Savior suffered His Cross to replace the love we lacked to live out, to TRANSFORM every possible human brokenness by enduring it, FREELY ACCEPTING THAT WHICH WE DESERVED, and permitted Himself to be sacrificed for our salvation.

The Cross must be seen in an active sense. While historical in one way, its more contemporary for the true follower than historical. Its activity causes us who carry it to allow to happen to us what happened to Christ .........TRANSFORMATION!

Christ transformed the ugliness of sin, pain, suffering, both physical and mental, into LIFE in RESURRECTION!

We spoke of the story of Adam and Eve. As we journey through the Fast, we hear of Noah and the ark. The ark and the cross have very similar purposes. How?

The ark comes from a Hebrew word - "teba", which basically means instrument of rescue - salvation - safety.

If we embrace Christ Jesus, if we see the "splinters" of His cross in ours, if we reject the "static" concept of the cross, and accept the fact that it is quite active in our lives, or at least can be, if we allow it to do its thing ....... we will share more and more in the TRANSFORMATION that comes from living out our "dying to self and our sins", and more and more, be come rescued - redeemed by Christ's' Love into our own RESURRECTION, be it in small victories or large ones!

As Eastern Christians we have the gift of understanding the cross as a means to LIFE, not death. The death that occurs is temporary or transitory... Lets use the courage Our Savior gives us,especially from the Holy Mysteries/Sacraments to allow the cross to bring us to Resurrection.

To paraphrase St.Paul .... I experience the dying of Christ in me, so that the rising of Christ may take its place!

At this point in Great Lent we shift our focus from our efforts to what Christ did for us and our salvation. Let us embrace the cross with joy, knowing its end result ...... LIFE UNENDING!

Slava Isusu Khrystu!

Fr.John

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First Week of Lent - 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Each year we set out on the forty days of Great Lent. If we are paying attention to the themes, we pray, we know that the Sunday of Cheesefare is a time to meditate on Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden. Consider the place. Who would want to leave Paradise? Being there we have no needs, desires, we want for nothing. Yet in the persons of Adam and Eve we can see that what seems to be obvious is not. Having "it all" seems to have been somehow involved in wanting yet more! The disobedience of the first man and woman-who we always need to remember symbolize us-contains a curse to be sure. But there is not only a blessing that eventually comes out of it, but a rightful partaking in what the Devil told Eve she would become - like God.

The Devils promise was focused on the misuse of knowledge gained. God the Fathers plan was Not only to have some sort of "knowledge "like God, rather to be TRANSFORMED into Godly People, regaining the image and likeness in which we were first created! But how?

This God of ours loves us so much that He took on our fallen humanity - we will celebrate this on March 25/April 7 the Anunnaction.In the person of Jesus Christ, through His teachings, His Encounters with His people, through His sufferings and bitter passion, He makes this restoration! We must recall that it was our sins, our guilt, and our lack of love that He assumed as His, and allowed To be nailed to a cross, and die to. He is the new Adam, the one who wins back our right to Paradise! It doesn't stop at the cross. His RESURRECTION from the dead IS OUR RESURRECTION!

In these initial week of the great Fast, let us not only fast from food - we must do that - But let us fast from sin, praying "unto a deeper union" with Christ and what he has done for us! Let us GIVE ourselves over to Him in sacrifice, and to our brothers and sisters as well. Let us look with joyful anticipation to the Veneration of the Cross to be truly strengthened and refreshed by it!

Slava Isusu Khrystu!

Fr. John Tokarick

(The Rt. Rev. Canon, Protopresbyter John Tokarick,
Protosyncellus, Archeparchy of Cleveland)



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