Father Rodney Torbic

February 26 / March 11, 2018

The Third Sunday of Great Lent

Veneration of the Holy Cross

Mark 8:34-38, 9:1

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. (KJV)

Denying oneself of interests which are contrary to the ways of God is difficult. The world holds many attractions, temptations and diversions that can sidetrack a person from the road to salvation.

The narrow way (Mt. 7:13-14) requires conviction, purpose and discipline. Believers must be willing to forgo attractions of the worldly life to enter the Kingdom of God. Believers must be able to say “no” to harmful diversions.

When failure occurs, when a believer yields to temptations, return to Christ in repentance and with humility, is necessary. The grace and love of God restores the sinner to health and redirection to the Kingdom of God.

Holy Confession and Holy Communion unite the believer to Christ and provide strength in time of temptation. Seeking the Kingdom of God is the purpose of life. Life with Christ is the greatest life here and hereafter.

When the body is gone, the soul remains. The best place for the soul now and after the body is gone is with Christ. The Holy Apostle Paul said: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

Great Lent is not only a period of denial. Great Lent is a time of striving for the life in Christ. This is a time of striving for purity of the soul. This is a time of striving for complete unity with Christ.

The joy of Christ exceeds the value of any denial of worldly life required. The love of Christ exceeds the benefits of any worldly attractions that offer momentary interest but are not of Christ.

Hardships encountered in the journey to salvation are bearable with Christ. Centuries and centuries ago the Psalmist recognized the help coming from God. The Psalmist said: “I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O Lord!” (Ps. 118/119:145)

Turning to God in prayer is always the best first step. When our attention turns to God, we benefit from opening our eyes and ears to God. We benefit by opening our hearts, minds and souls to God.

In stillness in the presence of God, we can find the answers to the important questions of life. In the Divine Liturgy, we can find the answers to the important questions of life. In the Holy Scriptures, we can find the answers important to life.

Prayer to God yields direction from God. Prayer to God brings unity with God. Prayer to God brings peace to the heart, mind and soul. A believer invests in the Kingdom of God when entering into deep prayer to God.

Taking up the cross each day is the sound way. The Lord’s words are preserved in the Gospel of St. Mark. Believers benefit from hearing these words and taking them to heart. Jesus’ words transform the lives of serious believers.

Believers are expected to structure and live according to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is read at each Divine Liturgy with the clear intent of impacting the lives of the individuals in attendance.

The Gospel is proclaimed for individuals to hear and to change their lives to be in accord. Believers are expected to go through a constant process of giving up what is not in accord with Christ and beginning anew in Christ.

Giving up ways of life not in accord with Christ can be difficult. Eating too much, drinking too much, accumulating too much, being lazy or too talkative or excess in certain activities can be difficult to curtail.

Believers may even be threatened by the thought of change. Believers may find security and comfort in a certain way of life and not have sufficient trust in Christ to put forth the effort to change.

Jesus promises that individuals who lose their old ways of life that are contrary to His way, will be saved. New life in Christ will be experienced. The Holy Apostle Paul said: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

Believers experience the goodness of God with each decision to draw near to God. The grace, mercy and love of God are continuously revealed to believers. Attentive believers see God at work in their daily lives.

Believers see God at work in their lives not only when making good decisions, but also when making bad decisions. Serious believers feel remorse when doing what is not pleasing to God.

The Cross of Christ was an instrument of pain and death to Christ. Believers may feel the crosses of daily life are too heavy and too painful to contend with. Greater pain and discomfort awaits those who choose not to follow Christ.

The immediate pain and discomfort of daily crosses are put into perspective when the believer keeps focus on the Kingdom of God. The Resurrection followed Christ’s death on the Cross.

Contemporary believers taking up their daily crosses find peace in Christ. The life in Christ is the only secure life. Divine joy awaits those immersing themselves in ways pleasing to God.

February 26 / March 11, 2018.
No. 18. The Third Sunday of Great Lent.

Fr. Rodney Torbic
Hidden Valley, Pennsylvania

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