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Devotional Thoughts for the Sunday of the feast of the Holy Cross- 14th Sept 08

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  • Jose Kurian Puliyeril.
    Reading: From the Gospel according to St. Luke 21: 5-28 Dear and Respected Brethren, The cross has a very important and significant role in the humanity s
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 13, 2008
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      Reading: From the Gospel according to St. Luke 21: 5-28

      Dear and Respected Brethren,

      The cross has a very important and significant role in the humanity's
      salvation act of our Lord Jesus Christ. The cross, which was
      considered as a symbol of aversion for many till then, became the
      sign of salvation immediately after the great sacrifice of our Savior
      on it. It is traditionally believed that the Jews, who were
      frightened seeing the sudden importance and recognition and reverence
      to the cross of our Lord, hid it along with the two crosses on which
      two thieves were crucified with our Lord, in a deep cave and covered
      the cave with thorns, glass pieces and similar waste. In the first
      century the Christians had no concern for the cross of our Lord and
      to make the sign of cross on them in recognition of the respect for
      the cross of our Lord. In fact the Christians had to survive mental
      and physical sufferings due to the persecutions and tortures from the
      Jews. They had no freedom of true worship and they depended forests
      and deep caves for the purpose. They had to change the location of
      worships from time to time. In secret they used the symbol of fish to
      identify themselves and on the ways to the caves where they used to
      meet for worship were marked with the symbol of the fish. The side,
      to which the fish's mouth turned, indicated to the side to which they
      had to move. But by the 2nd Centaury the situation had changed
      totally. St. Clement of Alexandria who left for his heavenly abode
      between AD 211 and 216 realized the deep link between our Lord and
      His cross and taught about it. There are historical records of the
      beginning of the signing of the cross, among the Christians across
      the globe, on the body from forehead to the chest and from the left
      shoulder to the right shoulder, from the beginning of the second
      centaury. According to the Greek ideology and teachings the sum '318'
      denoted the link between our Savior and His cross. When 'TIH' was
      written in Greek, they meant the name of our Lord and His cross. The
      numerical value of 'T' is 300 and the numerical value of 'IH', the
      first two letters of 'Jesus' in Greek is 18 and totally they
      used '318'. It is said that they used to refer to Genesis 14: 14
      where there is a reference for the number 318. We should not forget
      the number of the Church Fathers who attended the first Ecumenical
      Synod at Nicaea was also '318'. Those Fathers only formatted the
      Christian Faith for the first time in the history. St. Tertullian a
      contemporary Church Father of St. Clement has written in his famous
      book 'the Corona' that the Christians used to make the sign of cross
      as a seal on their forehead. St. Justin also has written about the
      sign of cross and its practice by the faithful in his
      writing "Apalogia". These Fathers have attempted to prove that the
      honoring of the cross is not at all idol worship. When King
      Constantine had a vision of the cross of our Lord, Queen Helene,
      mother of the king started to Jerusalem with a number of people in
      search of the cross of our Lord. As mentioned in the hymn of our
      worship, she assembled a number of Jews and asked the whereabouts of
      the Cross and one among them took her to a local leader who had
      information. And finally they took out three crosses after a
      laborious work of a few for few days. As they were not sure of the
      cross of our Lord, all the three crosses were touched to a dead body
      of a young man, which was taken to the cemetery. When the first two
      cross touched the mortal remains, there was no change and when the
      third touched, the dead man rose from death and they all finalized
      that it was the cross of our Lord. Finally they took the same with
      due honor and importance to Rome as a procession. This incident
      happened on 14th Sept 320. It is the world wide tradition faith about
      the exaltation of the Cross of our Lord. A church was constructed
      above the cave and was sanctified on 14th Sept 326. Our Church
      observes the feast of the exaltation of the Cross on 14th Sept, every
      year. The feast of the Holy Cross has a very decisive role in
      separating the worship year into two. From the Easter to the feast of
      the cross is known as Kyamtho/a and from the feast of the Cross till
      Easter is known as Sleebo/a. In Syriac language the existing order of
      worship is known as Penkiso, which literally means 'volumes'. In
      Penkiso there are three volumes for the entire Sundays and the
      feasts 'Moronayo'. Shimo order is for the ordinary days, which
      literally means 'simple'. We are supposed to use the first volume of
      the Penkiso during the days from Koodos Etho till the great Lent. The
      second volume is exclusively for the Lenten season and the third
      volume is for the days between Easter and the Koodos Etho.

      In today's reading we find our Lord's judgment listening to the
      appreciation of His disciples about the beauty of the temple and its
      construction. He said "there shall not be left one stone upon another
      that shall not be thrown down". We cannot imagine what was felt by
      the listeners. We are not sure whether they were aware of the
      prophecy in 1 Kings 9:7, where we read "Then will I cut off Israel
      out of the land which I have given them: and this home, which I have
      hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight and Israel shall be
      a proverb and a byword among all people." We must think about
      ourselves. Are we also living without repentance? Are we all meant to
      turn to Him in real repentance and tears? If not we will also face
      such a curse. There is no doubt about it. In Isaiah 64: 10-11 we
      read, "Thy holy cities are a wilderness. Zion is a wilderness,
      Jerusalem a desolation. Our Lord and our beautiful house, where our
      fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire, and all our pleasant
      things are laid waste". Let us pray to God Almighty not to have such
      a situation for us and our future generations. Let our Churches
      remain the houses of God Almighty for ever. Let us earnestly and
      constantly pray for our Holy Church of our fathers.

      May God bless us all

      Jose Kurian Puliyeril.
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