September 14, 2016
The Universal Exaltation of
The Precious and Life-Giving Cross
We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received our reconciliation.
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As the Precious and Life-Giving Cross is lifted up in our midst on this Feast of its Universal Exaltation, we are led to contemplate the great offering that was made by our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. On this Cross He died for all, so we might live for Him (II Corinthians 5:15). Through faith in Him, we are a new creation, the old has passed away… as God, through Christ has reconciled us to Himself (II Corinthians 5:17-18).
We have been reconciled to God through Christ by His grace. From His great love for us, Christ entered our humanity, sharing in it unto death on the Cross. The magnitude of His love for us as His creation was revealed through this tremendous offering. In love He acted for our sake so that He might restore His image within us and renew our communion with Him. In love He revealed His great mercy and offered us forgiveness of our sins.
Our reconciliation to God through the Cross was an act of great sacrifice. In lifting up the Cross before us, we recognize that an instrument of grace was also an instrument of suffering and death. We acknowledge the unfathomable burden that was assumed by our Lord as He took our sin upon Himself as an unblemished offering.
Through His sacrifice we are reconciled to God because we come to the Precious Cross in faith. We look upon it, and we proclaim the power that was revealed. We believe in the mighty act of redemption that was accomplished by our Lord upon the Cross. In faith we repent of our sins, receiving God’s grace and seeking to be reconciled with our Creator.
As we are reconciled to God through Christ and the Cross, we are given the ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18-19). We are called by our Lord and emboldened by His Life-Giving Cross to share the grace of God. From lives that are being transformed and commitment to our commission to share the Gospel, we demonstrate the power of the Cross to restore life, to renew, to heal and to save.
Our ministry of reconciliation is also a witness of sacrifice just as He gave His life for us. We give in full measure. We offer our lives, our gifts and our resources so that others might come to the Cross. We stand in the face of persecution and suffering, proclaiming a message of reconciliation so that others may have abundant and eternal life. Through that message, we ask all to look to Christ, to believe in Him and to be reconciled to God.
As we exalt the Cross of Christ each year on this Feast, we are also called to prayer for our beloved Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and for the students, faculty and staff who serve there. This community of learning and spiritual development is dedicated to the ministry of reconciliation through training the future clergy and lay leaders of our Holy Archdiocese. In a beautiful environment of worship and academics, our students are equipped for this ministry by the grace of God. Many do this by making significant vocational and financial sacrifices to follow His calling. In faith they commit to His will, to a life of service to His people and to all in need of the life that has come to us through the Cross.
May we continue to offer our prayers and our support to Holy Cross and our seminarians. As we look upon the Cross this day, may we also praise God for our reconciliation to Him through Christ. May we commit our work to the ministry of reconciliation so that others may find life and grace through the Cross of our Lord.
With paternal love in Him,
Archbishop of America