The Third Sunday of Great Lent: Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross
St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:1-6
Beloved in Christ, since we have a high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”; as he says also in another place, “Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
- Why is it so awesome that our “High Priest” is fully God?
- Why is it also awesome that our “High Priest” is fully human?
- When did God the Father “anoint” and appoint His Son as “High Priest”?
- WHY did God the Father make His Son the “High Priest”
- Why did God make us into a “royal priesthood”?
- What strengths do we have as anointed and appointed priests and ministers?
Gospel: Mark 8:34-9:1
When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” And He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”
- Christ is talking as if “coming after” or “following” Him is something good. What is that all about? Where does walking in His steps lead?
- Christ talks about “denying” ourselves. That means giving things up. What did He give up? Why did He give them up? What do we give up? Why?
- Christ took up His cross at Golgotha. Why? Did He have to?
- Why do we have to take up our cross? What do those crosses look like? Is it the same for everyone?
- Notice the relative importance of the world and our souls. Does this seem right? How can we know that our souls even exist?
- What does it mean to be ashamed of Christ and His words (because the penalty sounds pretty bad)?
- What in the world is that last prophesy about the kingdom of God?
Next week: St. John of the Ladder (on how to make our souls stronger and more resilient).