Between a Rock and a Hard Place
The above headline phrase might be an apt description for today as the Sunday between the Great Feasts of the Nativity of the Theotokos and that of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. The messages of these two celebrations show us God’s miraculous power and love which we are more than happy to behold, and the way for us to live in that power and love, which we will generally find a little more problematic.
The Birth of the Theotokos is the completion of the “barren to fruitful” message that we see beginning with the Patriarch Abraham and his wife Sara. We discover in this ‘type’ that nothing grows without God and that with God everything can grow (even us).
In the Elevation of the Cross we find that not only are our crosses overcomable by the grace of God, but that it is only through The Cross that we are able to overcome those worldly crosses.
Unfortunately, here’s where our dilemma arises. None of this is possible without our assent and our ascent. Everything we do in the Church is about going to God. So, I must first take up my cross and follow Him if I am to find the barren deadness of my very human life infused with divine power, life and love.
If my prayer life is inconsistent and self-arranged, if my ‘spare time’ is filled with feel-good recreation, if my reading list has nothing soul-growing on it, if my worship is limited to rote Sunday participation, if my love of my neighbor is based on how much he deserves it and if my mind is filled with personal concerns and desires first, and later (and when it trouble) filled with God, then perhaps it is time for a change.
Here in these Feasts we are shown the Virgin (to emulate in her obedience to God’s Will) and the Cross (to take up in denying the death-dealing carnality that dominates everything that our world (culture) offers to us).
When we “come to our senses” it is obvious what we need to do: acknowledge, confess, repent and change. And the place we get to begin is right here and right now. This is hard stuff to consider. It goes against almost everything our mind tells us. But the Barrenness transformed and the Cross embraced are our only real choices.
May God grant us the desire to increase our focused attention on these eternal, other-worldly, spiritual and essential things.