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Third Sunday of Lent. [Heb. 4:14–5:6; Mark 8:34–9:1] Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Mark 8:34). It is impossible to fol-low the Lord as a crossbearer with-out a cross, and everyone who fol-lows Him, unfailingly goes with a cross. What is this cross? It is all sorts of inconveniences, burdens and sorrows — weighing heavily both internally and externally — a-long the path of conscientious fulfil-ment of the commandments of the Lord, in a life according to the spirit of His instructions and demands. 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. Abundant privileges and a life of pleasure do not suit a true Christian. His task is to cleanse and reform himself. He is like a sick person, who needs cauterization, or amputation; how can this be with-out pain? He wants to tear himself away from the captivity of a strong enemy; but how can this be without struggle and wounds? He must walk counter to all practices surrounding him; but how can he sustain this without inconvenience and con-straint? Rejoice as you feel the cross upon yourself, for it is a sign that you are following the Lord on the path of salvation which leads to heaven. Endure a bit. The end is just around the corner, as well as the crowns!
Saint Theophan the Recluse