The cross is connected to witness because it is a sign of love and a sign of patience. Many are those who are called Christians but there are few who have patience. Perhaps the occasion never comes when people ask you if you love Christ or not, but you are constantly asked and you must respond, not with words but with your comportment. Those who call themselves Christians, how can they allow themselves to be absent from the church many times during the year, not coming forward for communion, for confession and repentance, and not actively striving every day for the love of Christ? This too is witness, but without words. This is a cross, with patience and with concern for every day’s hardships. Because He says: He who wants to follow Me, let him deny himself, that is, let him disregard everything his life and his passions require so that he may have a single desire, to attach himself to Christ. Let him deny himself and carry his cross every day and follow Me at every moment, in every place. How can they call themselves Christians, those who do not wear clothing appropriate to modesty and order, and who need someone to hit them with a stick in order to understand that they are not as they should be. How do they witness to Christ in this nudity and shamelessness? How are they not patient in the face of many difficulties?
The Christian life needs more seriousness. We have become slothful. We have become without foundation, without strength. We are accustomed to words, we associate ourselves with Christ loudly and in a partisan way, but our belonging to Christ is not embracing Him while He is on the Cross. Look, all the disciples loved Christ. Thomas said, “I will go and die with you” but when He was given over to the Cross, they became afraid and went far away. John remained with Christ, the one who perhaps the disciples murmured about with jealousy because he loved more than them. This love is not mere sentiment. It is a commitment resulting from John’s attachment to Christ.
God is not lacking justice in this matter, however He will respond in the measure that you give and that you offer. He gives us more than we offer, because He is patient with our repeated offenses at every moment. We deny Him when we adopt the ideas of the world. We deny Him when we become partisans of mortal men who are without thought and we forget His thought and His teaching and His sacrifice, that He died so that man may live and that it is within His power to give them life. But what can men do besides agitate us and divide us into camps and estrange us from the truth and from Christ.
O beloved, on this Sunday after the Feast of the Cross, Christ calls us to hold fast to His Cross. To hold fast to the Cross means being nailed and suffering, not that we decorate ourselves with it and carry it like a banner. The Cross means death for the sake of Christ. He calls us, then, to hold fast to the Cross, that is to bear witness to Him to the point of death in the sincerity of our life and our behavior until we reach the Resurrection. This requires of us that our life and our comportment be completely upright through these circumstances according to Christ’s teaching in the Gospel so that it is fitting for us to be witnesses to Him. We confess Him not by using many words, but through our firm and steadfast comportment, and when we confess Him He gives us glory and holiness.
May the Cross of the Lord preserve us in our life and sustain us so that we may live as is fitting, glorifying to the Lord, to whom is all praise and glory, amen.