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“In the Feast of the Holy Cross, the hymnography…makes the statement, “The Tree heals the Tree.” It is one of the marvelous commentaries on the life of grace and its relationship to the human predicament. It refers to the relationship between the Cross of Christ and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The latter was the source of the fruit that Adam and Eve consumed that was the source of their fall from grace. The “Tree that heals” is none other than the Cross of Christ. I am struck particularly by this treatment of Biblical imagery. The meditation does not say that the Cross destroys the tree whose fruit, along with our disobedience, brought the human tragedy. The Tree heals the Tree. In the same manner, the Kingdom of God does not destroy creation – it makes it whole. There is a tendency within our lives to view failure and disasters (whether self-inflicted or otherwise) as deep tragedies that derail our lives and the world around us. Our heart becomes confused when the thought of “if only” takes up residence. But the Tree heals the Tree. In God, nothing is wasted.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“It is the details of some of the Scripture lessons in which one discovers the ‘hidden’ connections and meanings which God has placed in them…when Moses cries out to God that the Israelites have no water to drink and so are at risk for dying in the desert, God responds. But instead of just providing the Israelites with water, God reveals a tree to Moses (Exodus 15:23-25)…For early Christian writers, the ‘tree’ which Moses sees is the Cross, or the wood of the Cross. They often used tree and cross interchangeably in their commentaries, certain that God was always revealing Christ throughout the Old Testament. This made an easy connection between the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise by which Eve and Adam sinned against God and the Cross of Christ through whom humanity was saved from sin and death. It is why the above passage from Exodus is part of the Scriptures read for the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“And the transgression which occurred through the tree was undone by the obedience of the tree—which [was shown when] the Son of Man, obeying God, was nailed to the tree, destroying the knowledge of evil, and introducing and providing the knowledge of good: and evil is to disobey God, just as to obey God is good….So, by means of the obedience by which He [Christ] obeyed unto death, hanging upon the tree, He undid the old disobedience occasioned by the tree.” (St. Irenaeus of Lyons) 

“[Christ] prays, but He hears prayer. He weeps, but He causes tears to cease. He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God. He is sold, and very cheap, for it is only for thirty pieces of silver, but He redeems the world, and that at a great price, for the price was His own blood. As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also. As a lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word and is proclaimed by the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He is bruised and wounded, butHe heals every disease and every infirmity. He is lifted up and nailed to the tree, but by the tree of life He restores us, yes, He saves even the robber crucified with him. . . . He dies, but He gives life, and by His death, He destroys death. He is buried, but He rises again; . . . He ascends to heaven and shall come again to judge the living and the dead.” (St. Gregory the Theologian)

“…the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not about moral behavior, but rather is about God’s relationship with humanity. The issue is whether humans will choose to live in a loving relationship with the Creator or attempt to live autonomously from God. Such separation from God is the definition of death.” (Christos Yannaras, Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“The cross is the power of God and the glory of God precisely because it contradicts the assumptions of our rational thought. Christ’s accomplishment through the cross is contrary to human reasoning: life comes from death, victory comes from defeat, exaltation comes from humiliation. The cross is powerful because it confounds human wisdom. That is why the theology of the Church is not based on deductive human reasoning, as St. Paul explained, “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17).” (Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou)

“The Cross is God’s ultimate response to human rejection and hatred. Paul writes, “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). The Greek word is derived from the idea of the exchange of currency…Accordingly, by reconciliation, enemies are changed into friends. God was not reconciled to humans, but humans were reconciled to God. The Cross exchanged the human condition of alienation from God into the invitation of a loving relationship between humans and their Creator. The Son of God took on our fallen state and our subjection to corruption. When the Lord overcame sin and death by His crucifixion and resurrection, He gave humans a fresh start. The age-old animosity that humans had toward God, the alienation between God and the human race that began with the sin in the Garden, the rejection of God by humans, sin’s affront to God’s goodness and holiness—all that the Cross cleared away like a table is cleared of dirty dishes.” (Fr. Basil)

“The crucifixion is an unexpected and surprising revelation of God’s love for us, what God is willing to suffer for us, of God’s own nature, and how close God is to us mortals as we struggle in this world. God empties Himself, leaves heaven in order to descend not just to earth but to hell itself to save His human creatures. Christ’s call to repentance is a call for us to change our way of thinking about God and to open our eyes to what the God of love is revealing to us: not more commandments, but salvation.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)

“The change brought about by the Passion of Christ does indeed make all things new. The disciples no longer read the scriptures in the same way as before; now, in the light of the risen Christ, they read scripture differently, as the “salvation history” that we have been examining. Likewise, as we look more broadly at the whole of creation and its history, we see it in a new light, as having been brought into being by Christ and moving towards Him as its fulfillment.” (Fr. John Behr)

“When we stand before the Cross of Christ, or kneel before it and honor it, we honor as well everything that is contained within it. We honor the unbelief of atheists, the anger and bitterness of the wounded, the shame of those who dare not look at themselves. For Christ has not distanced Himself from such things. The Cross is God’s single point of ingathering, where “all things are gathered together into one in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:10). Unbelief is a wound of the human heart, a disease of perception, a noetic blindness. The Cross is not a stranger to cruelty or every form of mockery and perverted delight. All such things were and are present in that single moment.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“ ‘…Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6). The ungodly are all of us. Because of sin, everyone stands in alienation from God, and we do not have the capacity to become righteous on our own. Because of God's love, Christ died for our sins to bring us the gift of righteousness…Christ is the offering for all sin—voluntary and involuntary—which demonstrates God's incomparable grace toward us.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Romans 5:6, Hebrews 10:26-27)

“There is no one who will save us except the One who loved us so much that while we were yet sinners, He died for us. Do you see what ground this gives for us to hope? For before this there were two difficulties in the way of our being saved. First, we were sinners, and second, our salvation required the Lord’s death, something which was quite incredible before it happened and which required enormous love for it to happen at all. But now that it has happened, the rest becomes that much easier.” (St. John Chrysostom)

“Covenant law demands punishment, but punishment in this case would mean annihilation of what God has created. God’s justice, as demanded by the law, must be satisfied. To satisfy His justice, He does something seemingly unjust. He punishes his sinless servant, the only one who has not strayed off! In the progress of biblical revelation, we discover that the sinless servant is really God in the flesh, who offers Himself because He is committed to the world He has created. If His justice can only be satisfied if He himself endures the punishment, then so be it. What appears to be an act of injustice is really love satisfying the demands of justice!” (NET Bible, Isaiah 53:11)

“…the Cross contradicts everything that this world stands for. The Cross judges all the values and aspirations of worldliness–its power, its pleasures, its riches, and its prestige. It shows them to be empty and meaningless, for God did not use any of them to free us from our bondage to sin. He chose to employ the seeming dishonor and disgrace of the Cross….we realize today that whatever we seek in this world, cannot save us. The wisdom of this world cannot make us wise. The signs of fortune cannot deliver us. But the Cross? It is the “power of God unto salvation to those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Therefore, Christ has become “for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).” (Fr. Basil)

“The Cross should not be seen as an event of divine payment, an arrangement that clears the way for us go to heaven. Nor should the Cross be reduced to a mere willingness to suffer patiently. The Cross is the way of life and is constantly set forth to us throughout the New Testament. It is the singular mark of a Christian: “Those who would be my disciples must take up their cross and follow me.” What is the Cross? The Cross is ironically described as the “Weapon of Peace,” in Orthodox hymns. Though it may appear passive to outside observers, it is the most singularly “offensive” action of power available to us. The Cross triumphs even over death. The Cross is our self-emptying union with the Crucified Christ in which we offer ourselves “on behalf of all and for all.” It is both prayer as well as the inner shaping of our outward responses. When cursed, we bless. When struck, we turn the cheek. These are not symbolic actions, but actions of supreme spiritual power that diffuse the poison begotten in the evil actions of others. These are actions that “atone,” in that they cause an “at-one-ment,” a “union,” between a situation and God. Goodness in anything can only come about through union with God, in that He alone is the source of goodness.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The Cross is the singular demonstration of the breadth and depth of God’s love for us. And it becomes the model for all who would take up their cross daily and follow the Lord (Luke 9:23). By walking in the light of the Cross, we will reach our destination of eternal life in the Holy Trinity. We will lose our life in the radical love of one another so that we might find it. And in the self-sacrifice of love, we will be obedient to the new commandment that the Lord gave us during the Last Supper.” (Fr. Basil)

“The Way of the Cross is more than a slogan representing how one might value an isolated event in history. The Cross reveals who God is, as well as His wisdom and power. The meekness of the Cross is revealed in the death and resurrection of Christ as the fullness of Divine favor, both the means of our salvation and marker of the path we are to follow. The hiddenness of God primarily obscures Him to those who seek the world’s path of power and wisdom. They see only weakness and folly and taunt those who accept God’s obscurity as a welcome companion in their own humility.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Christ’s act of vulnerability on the Cross was also the supreme act of love. Through the Cross Jesus showed us that without vulnerability, love cannot reach its perfection, just as without the risk of heartache there can be no love, and without death there can be no resurrection.” (Robin Phillips)

“Carrying one’s cross is a process, and especially when we are burdened with painful emotional memories, it is one that we sometimes struggle with. The work of resolving past experiences that have wounded us is part of the process of carrying our cross and can help us do it more effectively and in a more God-pleasing way.” (Fr. Joshua Makoul)

“When we sacrifice our usual routines and social interactions to protect the lives of others, we take up our crosses. The same is true when we donate to ministries and organizations that help people through the economic challenges of these times. The same is true when we fast from obsessive worry about the future as we entrust our lives and the well-being of our loved ones to the Lord. It may be tempting today to cope with the present crisis by numbing ourselves with mindless entertainment, rich food, and strong drink. Fasting from such self-indulgence enables us to recognize and offer our fears and weaknesses to the Lord for His healing and strength, instead of covering them over with self-gratification. It is only by fighting our passions in ways that redirect our deepest desires for fulfillment to God that we will gain the spiritual clarity to discern how to take up our crosses...” (Fr. Philip LeMasters)

“The crucified Christ is the fullness of the revelation of God. There is no further revelation to be made known, no unveiling of a wrath to come. The crucified Christ is what the wrath of God looks like…Christ is moving towards His end, the consummation of the Incarnation. As He is increasingly revealed, everything around Him is revealed as well. Things are shown to be more clearly what they are. Those who hate Him, begin to be revealed as plotters and murderers. What was once only thoughts and feelings of envy become plots and perjury. The power of Rome is unmasked for its injustice, mere people-pleasing. The High Priest is revealed to believe that the destruction of God is good for his nation. The weakness of the disciples and the empty boasting of Peter and the rest are shown for their true emptiness. The sin of the world is revealed in the death of God.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“But the righteous are revealed as well [in Christ’s crucifixion]. The steadfast love of the Mother of God never wavered before the Cross. Her faithfulness is revealed. The kindness of Joseph of Arimathea is forever marked by an empty tomb. The tears of a harlot reveal the nature of love, even hidden beneath the deeds of her life. In the judgment of God, all things are simply shown to be what they truly are. Sin is seen to be sin. Love is seen to be love. There is clarity. And in the judgment of God, His own love is shown to be what it truly is – self-sacrificing, forgiving, relentless in its mercy. It is not a love that pronounces forgiveness from the Cross only to pronounce destruction on another occasion.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“…in our reading of 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:2,  Paul writes, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (NKJV vs. 27). By this pronouncement, the apostle notes that the Cross contradicts everything that this world stands for. The Cross judges all the values and aspirations of worldliness;  its power, its pleasures, its riches, and its prestige. It shows them to be empty and meaningless, for God did not use any of them to free us from our bondage to sin. He chose to employ the seeming dishonor and disgrace of the Cross.” (Fr. Basil)

“God’s work of redemption and salvation are likewise known only by divine revelation. The God who brings all things from non-existence into being reveals Himself as the God who knows us more intimately than we can ever know ourselves, who loves us to the point that He sacrifices Himself for us, in order to make accessible to us the gift of eternal life. The God beyond the cosmos is also the God who is “closer to us than our own heart.” (Fr. John Breck)

“Even as Christ undergoes the Passion, to be questioned and beaten and to be nailed to the Cross, He radiates the Light of His Divinity and reminds us that there is no darkness that came overcome Him. “ (Metropolitan Tikhon)

“When we stand before the Cross of Christ, or kneel before it and honor it, we honor as well everything that is contained within it. We honor the unbelief of atheists, the anger and bitterness of the wounded, the shame of those who dare not look at themselves. For Christ has not distanced Himself from such things. The Cross is God’s single point of ingathering, where “all things are gathered together into one in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:10). Unbelief is a wound of the human heart, a disease of perception, a noetic blindness. The Cross is not a stranger to cruelty or every form of mockery and perverted delight. All such things were and are present in that single moment.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“The cross, a dreaded instrument of Roman punishment, is also a symbol of suffering by Christians in imitation of Christ. We practice self-denial for the sake of the love of God and the gospel. Accepting this suffering is not a punishment, nor is it an end in itself, but a means to overcome the fallen world for the sake of the Kingdom and to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 16:24)

“Somewhere at some point in time, a person conceived of the idea of crucifixion on a cross. That person meant it for punishment, torture, and death. At that moment, that person was inventing the means of suffering and death that God would use and transform for eternal life and salvation for all of us who will willingly take up our cross and follow Him. These are the kinds of things I think about in dark moments to remind myself who is in total control no matter what it seems, and how no one or nothing evil can ever overcome God’s goodness and love for us.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“The Cross is not only the symbol of God's infinite love for us, but it is the visible declaration of the Gospel, the Good News: the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Father Eusebius Stephanou)

“Through the power of our Lord’s Resurrection and the revelation of Him as the Source of true and eternal life, all of creation has been filled with the presence of God’s grace. The light of the Resurrection infuses all things, and no darkness remains. Nothing remains hidden—the consequences of sin are exposed, and the victory of the Cross is revealed.” (Archbishop Demetrios)

“The astronomer Allan Sandage spent a lifetime peering through telescopes into space, studying supernovae. He never ceased to wonder, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Finally, as he confessed, “My science . . . drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated than can be explained by science. It is only through the supernatural that I can understand the mystery of existence.” Two millennia earlier the Apostle Paul, a man rigorously trained from his early years in the best Rabbinic schools, “was caught up to the third heaven . . . into Paradise and heard inexpressible words” (2 Cor 12:2-4). This experience, along with his vision on the road to Damascus, overpowered his logical mind and confirmed the crucified Messiah and His Resurrection. Often, because of our knowledge, pride, and self-assurance, we refuse to bow before the wisdom of God until our own resources and confidence have been exhausted. Only when a quiet descends on our soul do we cease to blame God…” (Dynamis 9/14/2018)

“It is Christ Crucified that reveals all things to be what they truly are. It unmasks every pretense of uprightness and self-justification. It welcomes the thief while the hypocrisy of others drives them away. This is the judgment that we avoid. Think back to the last argument you had. Perhaps you were in the right. Take that argument and stand before Christ on the Cross. For myself, I cannot imagine any such argument that I’ve had that isn’t revealed in its absurdity and emptiness in that context. Presently, we live in a world of arguments. Enslaved to our own shame and anger, we are slowly pulling each other down towards an abyss of meaninglessness.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Even when Jesus prayed for Him to be spared the experience of the crucifixion He ended the prayer with the words, “not as I will, but as you will.” He trusted, remained faithful, remained obedient, He prayed, He forgave, He did not lash out at others, He did not blame, He did not become bitter, He did not reenact what was done to Him on others (we can never be healed of our hurt so long as we are reenacting it on others), nor did He respond in any way that caused hurt or pain to others. In doing so He emerged from the cross having destroyed our spiritual deaths, repaired the relationship between God and man, and restored fallen humanity.” (Fr. Joshua Makoul)

“At the heart of the Christian story, however, is the Triune God’s rejection of both exclusion and tolerance. The Creator was not content to exclude those who had rejected him, but neither was he prepared to tolerate our hatefulness and sin. So what did he do? He became one of us, one of the “other,” identifying with us to embrace us in solidarity, empathy, and selfless agape love—all the way to the cross.” (David Kinnaman)

“Christ transformed suffering on the cross and made it a means for our personal growth…..” (Sacramental Living)

“…we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:23-25)

“Why is the message of the cross . . . foolishness to unbelievers? It is a mark of them that perish not to recognize the things which lead to salvation.” (St. John Chrysostom)

“When one tries to increase his knowledge by doing mental gymnastics over books without waiting upon God and looking to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, his soul is plainly in full swing. This will deplete his spiritual life. Because the fall of man was occasioned by seeking knowledge, God uses the foolishness of the cross to "destroy the wisdom of the wise.” (Watchman Nee)

“We can spend a lifetime accumulating human wisdom and yet never learn how to have a personal relationship with God. We must come to the crucified and risen Christ to receive eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with our Savior.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 1:19)

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1: 18) When does “the word of the cross” become “folly” to me? When I slip into resentment, self-pity, and egocentrism...The “word of the cross,” on the other hand, is one of self-giving and hence of growth, because self-giving brings me out of myself. It brings me out, into the vulnerability and sunlight of the “power of God,” where I grow through the ups and downs of humble openness." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“The Cross is not an ornament or a piece of jewelry but it is “the Way.” It is the Way of Christ which is quintessentially a life of love and forgiveness…The path to God is a daily cross.” (Archimandrite Sergius, St. Isaac the Syrian)

“God’s gift of faith is our sole source of righteousness. We should not infer from this that God does not take our sins seriously, but rather that He reckons our sins by Christ on the Cross. He was “made . . . to be sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21), so that we might repent and live in gratitude.” (Dynamis 6/9/2015)

"My faith is not about arguments that begin and end in my mind, but about my daily partaking of the grace-filled journey of the Cross, lovingly guided by the light of the Resurrection." (Dr. Sr. Vassa Larin)

"Christ destroys what St. Nicholas Cabasilas calls “the triple barrier” of separation from God: by His Incarnation, He destroys the separation in nature; by His death on the Cross, He destroys the separation by sin; and by His Resurrection, He destroys the separation of death." (Archimandrite Sergius)

“All events that happened before the Cross, for the Christian, led up to the Cross. Subsequently, all events after the Cross are defined by the Cross and look back to the Cross for meaning. So the Cross is the center of time; it magnifies and gives perspective to time.” (Albert S. Rossi)

“Wholeness (holiness) is ours through this relationship with Christ, whose redemptive act upon the Cross, together with His conquering of death by death, delivers us from the depths of estrangement.” (Abbot Tryphon)

“...everyone who follows Him unfailingly goes with a cross. What is this cross? It consists of all sorts of inconveniences, burdens, and sorrows—weighing heavily both internally and externally—along the path of the conscientious fulfillment of the commandments of the Lord, in a life according to the spirit of His instructions and requirements. Such a cross is so much a part of a Christian that wherever there is a Christian, there is this cross, and where there is no such cross, there is no Christian." (St. Theophan the Recluse)

“Those who know God have no need to protect their rights. Because they believe in Him, they learn to bear the Cross daily and to rely upon Him for the outcome." (Watchman Née)

"There is no Christianity without repentance and cross-bearing." (Metroplitan Kallistos Ware)

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