Take up your cross and follow Me

A Reflection on the Third Sunday of Lent

On the third Sunday of Lent, we celebrate the Veneration of the Holy Cross.

In today’s Gospel reading, Christ tells us that those who would follow Him must deny themselves and take up their cross. The crosses we carry may take many forms. For some, it is poverty; for others, injustice; or for another, ill health. But the mere presence of such a cross in our lives does not make us a follower of Christ. It is how we bear it. Being sick does not make a person holy. Think about this. Do we flock to hospitals or monasteries to sit at the feet of holy men and women?

Neither does the fact of being poor make someone holy. We may think here of the sufferings of Job. He went from being the wealthiest of men to someone with nothing but a dung heap to sit upon. It was not his sudden descent into abject poverty that made him holy. Job was already a holy man. He was holy when he was surrounded by all the good things of life that one might wish for. No, his holiness came from how he dealt with devastating changes in his circumstances. He lost children, property, and possessions; yet, he never lost his faith in God. Therefore, it is not suffering in itself that makes us holy but bearing that suffering well.

Even though we know that good may come from suffering, this does not mean that we should not do what we can to reduce suffering in the world. Indeed, we must! Helping the poor and hungry is just as much a part of following Christ as bearing whatever cross we must carry.

Here, we might think of the parable of the sheep and the goats in which our Lord speaks to us of the final judgment we will face. In this parable, Christ gives us a dire warning. Those who ignore the suffering of others, who do not lift a finger to alleviate the suffering of others are unrighteous. They will be placed on Christ’s left at that judgment and taken away into eternal punishment. However, those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and welcome the stranger – those who help others – are among the righteous. They will receive the reward of eternal life.

The implications are obvious. Following Christ means not only carrying our own cross but also helping others to carry theirs. Just as Christ told us that we must take up our cross if we would follow Him, He told us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. How we do that depends on our circumstances.

How Do We Carry Our Cross?

If you have money, share it; and do so remembering the example of the widow and her mite, giving not just what you can easily spare but making sacrifices to give generously. Perhaps you have skills that you can volunteer to help others. Or is your gift the ability to influence others and try to make sure that there is justice?

Whatever it is that you can do, do it! The cross of your brother and sister is your cross also. And as well as whatever it is you do, pray. Pray for guidance as to what you should do. Pray that the suffering of others may be lessened. Also, pray that they may bear well any suffering that is not lessened. In this way, pray that they may become holy as they bear their cross day by day.

Fr. Jeremiah Burke

Lenten Almsgiving Opportunity

is a nonprofit tax deductible 501(c)(3) public charity and is fully under the
supreme spiritual care of the Orthodox Church.

Contacting the Order


Media Inquiries/Public Relations:


General Information:

The Holy Orthodox Order of
Saint George the Great Martyr
270 Deer Run Trail
Manchester, Connecticut, USA 06042

Copyright © All rights reserved.