We have arrived at the “half-way point” of our Great Lenten Journey, and the Church brings our attention solidly upon the Holy Precious and Life-Giving Cross of our Lord. In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Great Lent we hear Jesus Christ challenge us to join Him on the Cross. “For whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34) The life of every Christian is found in the Cross, both the Cross of Christ and OUR cross which we carry through our daily struggles.
We know that anything of value is worth the hard work it takes to achieve. A good crop, a well built house, a successful business – these each are possible only with hard work and dedication. The same is true with our spiritual life in Christ. If we desire a good outcome, it will require hard work and dedication. That is why, half-way through Great Lent we hear the words of Christ, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8.35-36)
The past couple years have been known for struggle. The pandemic, while it is finally subsiding, continues to have an effect on our daily lives. Businesses still have not returned to normal capacity, and school children are still feeling the effects of lost time in the classroom. As a society we are dedicated to the hard work of rebuilding our society after the pandemic, but we must not forget to rebuild our life in the Church.
There are still many who have not returned to Church since the doors were closed two years ago. Many have chosen to ‘watch online’ rather than to enter the Church and receive Holy Communion. For some, the danger of the pandemic is still real. For many others unfortunately, it has just become too easy to stay home, but nothing worth anything comes from easy.
It isn’t too late to dedicate the rest of your Great Lenten Journey to the hard work it will take to prepare your soul to encounter Jesus Christ in His glorious resurrection on Pascha when we will receive the eternal Light and sing, “Christ is risen from the dead!” Embrace the struggle that is Great Lent by fasting, increasing your prayer life, attending extra Church services, and serving the poor. As Christ says, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8.37)