SEPTEMBER 15, 2019 - OUR “TREE OF LIFE”
Saint Paul the Apostle touches the heart of the Christian Gospel when he writes: “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:22). So, he compares Adam and Christ; Adam who brought death to humanity and Christ who brought life, undoing the work of the first man. Indeed, Christ is sometimes termed the “New” Adam.
Secondly, the Tree in the Garden of Eden whose fruit brought death to mankind, may be compared with the Tree of the Crucifixion, through which eternal life became available to all who believe. Thus, the Cross is our salvation, the blessed fruit which is the joy of Christians. St. John Chrysostom says: “Like a halo, let us carry about the Cross of Christ… this symbol of victory.”
No wonder the Finding of the Cross of Christ and its Elevation in the 4th century has become a beloved Feastday. Initially, this feast was associated with the dedication of the Church of the Resurrection (called by some the Holy Sepulchur) in Jerusalem. But it soon became a great holyday in its own right, especially after the Cross was regained in the 7th century. Crowds came to venerate the Sacred Wood, and so the Patriarch raised the Cross on high as the faithful proclaimed, “Lord, have mercy!” That ritual is retained to this day.
The icon captures this historical scene: the Patriarch holding the Cross, with the Emperor’s mother, St. Helen, standing along with the Deacons, Clergy and the Faithful. And so, we bow before Your Cross, O Master.