(Hymn of Vespers)
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,
The Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross is a blessed day and celebration of the tremendous power of the Cross of our Lord. Through the Cross the power and wisdom of God have been revealed. By the Cross we are reconciled to Him, and we can find true and enduring peace. It is the Cross that directs us to Christ and to the way of salvation and eternal life.
As the Apostle Paul recognized in his first Epistle to the Corinthians some see this as foolishness or contrary to the wisdom of the age (I Corinthians 1:17-23). How can wisdom be found in great humility, suffering, and sacrifice? Where is peace and reconciliation through an instrument of torture and punishment? How can this cruel means of death show us the way to life?
First, our Exaltation of the Cross affirms that God has revealed His great might and wisdom through what is low and despised in the world (1:28) and what is foolish and weak (1:27). He did this so that no human being might boast in the presence of God(1:29). He chose a means for our redemption that did not conform to worldly standards of wisdom and power, showing that our source of life, our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification (1:30) are found in Jesus Christ alone.
Second, as we exalt the Precious and Life-Giving Cross, we commemorate the tremendous offering of our Lord. We acknowledge that He alone was able to reconcile us to God by His death, ending our estrangement due to the power of evil. By making peace through the blood of His Cross and through our faith in Him, we can be presented before God as holy, blameless, and irreproachable. (Colossians 1:19-23)
Finally, we proclaim the power of the Cross on this Feast, for through it Christ has shown us the way to life. Through the Cross and His humility and obedience unto death, He has been exalted so that every tongue should confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:11). By emptying himself, taking the form of a servant, and being born in the likeness of humankind (Philippians 2:7), Jesus has received a name above every name. Christ has shown that through the His Cross He is leading us to overcoming sin and evil and death and to reach eternal life.
As we celebrate the Cross and its transforming power for our lives and for all the created order, we also offer our support for our beloved Holy Cross School of Theology. In the life of our Schole, this feast always marks the beginning of a new academic year. It also is the beginning and continuation of the journey of our students who are preparing for service to God and His Church. During this time at Holy Cross they are strengthened and nurtured for a lifetime of ministry, and through the Cross they will be connected to the wisdom of God, will guide others to reconciliation and peace, and will show the way to salvation and eternal life through Christ. May we offer our prayers and gifts of support for our seminarians and our beloved Holy Cross.
Through our worship and celebration let us call all people to come to the Cross of our Lord so that they might know His grace and compassion. Certainly, the power of the Cross will change their lives forever!
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America