The Cross Is A Door

I imagine nearly everyone at least once, has had a difficult time locating a certain destination.

Maybe while driving, you were sure you had the right address but it didn’t seem like it when you were getting close. Or maybe walking somewhere the number on the mailbox was correct but the house or the part of town it was in didn’t seem very inviting.

For those of you who have read the Chronicles of Narnia, you may remember about how there were dwarves who got stuck in Paradise, but were unable to see it for what it actually was. I wonder what they would see if they looked at the Cross of Christ.

Sometimes the seasons of the Church may feel mundane and the symbols of our Faith may seem uninviting, almost to the point where we can’t see them for what they truly are. In the Orthodox Church, we recently had the third Sunday of Great Lent, when we place a Cross in the center of the Church. The Cross is a symbol of suffering and death. But do we also recognize it as the Door to Paradise?

In the Gospel reading for the third Sunday of Great Lent, we hear Christ, before His crucifixion, telling His disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. Perhaps we’ve read or heard these words before, and so it may be a temptation to just take them in stride. But the Church places this Gospel lesson and remembrance of the Cross in the middle of the Great Lent not only to remind us that this season is nearly gone, but to help us not miss the door to paradise.

If we feel like our cross is too heavy, or that life is too hard right now, that’s because it is. The Epistle from St. Paul on the Sunday of the Cross helps us know what to do when life is hard:

“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.”

Christians have always seen the difficulty in life as opportunities, and they use struggles to draw near to God through prayer. They have used their difficulties to increase their converse with God and become more like Christ, who bore slander, rejection, and unjust death. The cross in our life that we think too hard to carry can not only become bearable but also unite us to God.

This season of Great Lent that we are in, the Cross and Crucifixion that we recall – and whatever hard things you may be dealing with right now are difficult, but they are permitted by God because they encourage our salvation.

Let us not be deceived by the devil’s lie that if God really loved us, He wouldn’t allow “bad things happen to us”. Let us rather see that the difficult things in our life are permitted for us because God really loves us. Let us recognize this season, the difficulties in our life, and Christ’s Cross for what it really is: Our door to Paradise.