“Before Your Cross we bow down, O Master, and Your holy Resurrection we glorify.” (Byzantine Hymn of the Cross, chanted on the 4th week of Lent)
In the very middle of Lent, throughout this fourth week, we bow down before the cross, which is placed in the center of the church, having been solemnly brought out of the altar during last Sunday’s vigil. Why now, in the middle of Lent? Because our Lord’s death on the Cross marks the very middle, the center, of Salvation History.
We entered into Lent with a commemoration of the “beginning,” of Adam’s banishment from paradise (on Forgiveness Sunday), which we “read” from the perspective, the light, of the central event of the Cross. And we “read” this central event, of our Lord’s crucifixion and death, in the light of the Resurrection. At the very end of our Lenten journey we will return to the central moment of our common story, when we accompany the God-Man in His final trials during Great Week, before we transition to the full celebration of His glorious exit from the Tomb.
Today let me refresh my Lenten focus, and let the life-giving Cross shed new light on my mid-Lenten complacency. With Pascha just three weeks away, may our Lord Jesus Christ, Who suffered, died, and was buried for my sake, strengthen and renew me to take up His cross again, in His light and lightness. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,” He says to me today, “for I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Mt 11: 29)