On the Third Sunday in Lent, halfway between the beginning of Lent and Holy Week, the Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates the precious Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Services include a special veneration of the Cross.

Recalling the crucifixion narrative, we remember Christ being crucified between two thieves. The first thief, seeing how human falsehood condemned an Innocent, rejected all human justice and was indignant and rebellious to the very end, blaspheming God. The other, seeing that an Innocent was also dying, confessed that he himself had been justly convicted for his crimes. He then turned to this Innocent and humbly plead for mercy and salvation. And God granted his plea for forgiveness and bestowed upon him salvation. Indeed, the penitent robber on the same day found himself with his Savior in paradise.

The Cross conveys how Divine grace, Divine love, Divine power can transform each one of us, sanctify each one of us, give each one of us eternal life, as it has for millions of our predecessors, both Saints that are glorified and holy persons that are unknown to us.

The message of the Cross is the immense and amazing love of God, which is why we can today venerate this Cross, not with a wounded soul, not with horror, but with such bright hope, so that when we enter the days of Holy Week, we are prepared and strengthened to faithfully endure together with Christ His suffering journey. Thereby, we will not simply be spectators, grieved by the unimaginable horror of the crucifixion, but rather faithful sojourners and recipients of such incomprehensible Divine love, rejoicing in the ultimate victory of the glorious resurrection.

(Source: Orthodox Catholic Monastery of Our Lady Of All Who Sorrow)