27 - Third Sunday of Great Lent, March 18, 2012
The Third Sunday of Great Lent
Veneration of the Cross

Listen closely to the Church during Great Lent and hear her singing with joy throughout the fast. See how the lines of anxiety etched on the faces of the faithful soften into a glow of peace as they unburden their souls in the sincere confession of their sins. Why is this Lenten period of rigorous fasting a time of such joy and peace for the faithful?
The Fast grows like a flower from the wood of the Cross. So the Church tells us the first week of Great Lent. Through the fast, we answer the Lord's call to take up our cross and lose our life for His sake if we would follow Him.
The Cross is an instrument of suffering and death. So, how does the Cross of Christ produce the joy we hear of and see in the Church?
"Behold, the Bridegroom comes at Midnight!"
Midnight is that point when the old passes over into the new, when the old dies and the new is born. The Bridegroom comes at Midnight! The only Lover of Mankind, Christ our God, comes at the point when the old passes over into the new, when the old dies and the new is born. By His death on the Cross, the Savior catches that Passover movement and redirects it into the New Day of His Resurrection and into His Kingdom that is not of this world. By His death on the Cross, He has made death to be the death not of life but of death. Shattering the iron bars and bronze doors of hell, He has made the tomb to be the Gate that opens onto Eden and the Tree of Life.
For, the Bridegroom comes at Midnight in His love for Adam and Eve and their children. Their love is the worldly movement that He catches as it passes over from the old day into the new day. Those who love the darkness more than the light He leaves to pass away into the darkness of Midnight that they love. But, those who love the Bridegroom and take up their Cross out of their love for Him, those He catches as they die and pass away into Midnight so that, united to Him, they pass over into His Holy Resurrection and the New Creation.
This joy of Christ's Holy Resurrection is the joy that shines in the faithful who are uniting themselves to Christ through the fast of the Church. It is the fruit of their love for God, the inexpressible sweetness of their union with Christ both in the suffering of His death and in the glory of His Holy Resurrection. It is the joy of the healing of soul and body that comes from Christ's life-creating death on the Cross.
This is the joy that anyone wants to can see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears, handle with their own hands. We need only to offer our love to the Bridegroom who comes at Midnight. In love for Christ, we take up our cross, the fast of the Church, and follow Him to the Midnight of His Holy Pascha as He commands. United to Him in love, we become members of His crucified body and pass over with Him into the New Day of His Holy Resurrection. Amen.