Why do we live?—Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

Why do we live?  Our society does not know the answer to this so tries to fill us with tasks and distractions until we are inevitably taken by death.  So we go out and find work, we fill the remaining time with hobbies, we manage our households, occupy our children and complain that we just do not have enough time.  But what’s the point?  We are just doing this, and teaching our children to do this, so they can teach their children to do this, so that society keeps functioning for the sake of society keeping its function.  Why do we live?

The Lord says to Martha after the death of her brother Lazarus, and he says to me, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”  This is radical in our world where death has no solution, no response, no reply.  Yet the Lord continues immediately to Martha, “Do you believe this?”  And I—if I am to make this Gospel my own, if I am to receive this life which not even death can overcome—must reply as she, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:25–27)

In today’s Gospel reading, my brothers and sisters, the Lord gives to each of us the way in which we make this belief our own, so that it is no mere opinion or thought but a living part of our lives.  He says to you and he says to me, “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  And this is perverse and mad according to the standards of this age where tasks and diversions are meant to distract us from the inevitable ending.  But it is the only thing that works.  Our life in this world can only lead to death but Christ offers us more, offers us life, abundant life, life without end.  “For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it.”  And this is the Gospel that God offers to you, he offers to me and he offers to all in our world.  And as many as hear this Gospel,

as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12–13

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us take up our crosses joyfully as we journey through this world, let us live with the folly of the Cross, “For the word of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (First Corinthians 1:18)  Let us not be ashamed by the Cross but ourselves be lifted up upon it and thereby draw all people to our Lord (see John 12:32).

To our crucified Saviour, who through the Cross revealed the glory of God, Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead, be all praise and worship, together with his unoriginate Father and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

Brethren, 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.’
— Hebrews 4:14–16, 5:1–6

The Lord said: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.
— Mark 8:34–38; 9:1