The Homily of Patriarch John X on the Good Friday at the Church of the Holy Cross in Damascus

19/4/14

“Mourn not for me, O mother, in the day of my passions.
For this day I have came down from heaven like manna
Not upon mount Sinai, but in thy womb, 
As King David prophesied.
For I am the “Overshadowed Mountain”,
The Word Who wast made flesh from thee.
In this flesh I must suffer, through it I shall save.
So, do not cry, O mother. But rather shout:
Suffer willingly
O Son and God!”

With these words, the son of Homs, Romanus the Melodist, described for the Constantinopolitans the theology of crucifixion using an outstanding dialogue between Jesus and His mother the Holy Virgin. Our Church used the same liturgical description talking about our crucified Lord, Who asked forgiveness for those who crucified Him.

We stand today before His coffin, chanting before His redemptive Cross. We stand today with Joseph, Nicodemus, Mary and the other women shading tears before His great love. We do not cry Him out of a human sorrow, but rather before that Godly love which did not spare an endeavor or a manner for the salvation of the mankind. We shade the joyful tears of Resurrection, whose glimmer shines out of the four sides of the Holy Cross. Through this Cross we contemplate the Creator’s love, and His patience for the sake of His creation’s salvation. We do not look at Him as a social reformer, nor as a super hero. We look at Him as a great God in His love, and a Lord in His humility. We do not measure His love according to how much He suffered, but rather according to how much He made Himself of no reputation. Let us think, everyone of us, how God, for us and for our salvation, has been buffeted! Is not this enough to show us His exceeding Godly love?

“O mine own Christ Jesus,
Thou art King of the world.
Why hast Thou come down to Hades to seek Adam?    
Is it not to set the race of mortals free?”

This is what the lamentations of today’s service say, and this summarizes the theology of this day. Jesus, the Savior, always seeks His sheep which is gone astray, Adam. Adam has lost the paradise because of his pride, so God descended to earth, to our earthy form. And because death has had power over Adam after committing the sin and locked him in hell, that is why, Adam’s Lord did not spare Himself, but He suffered the death seeking His beloved one from the depth of the Hades. What a supreme love that transcends our perception. What a humility that transcended ours!

O God, Who for His love toward mankind, chose to carry the Cross, He Who is carried by the Seraphim. O Trinitarian fire of love that dwelled in the womb of the Virgin sanctifying our humanity. O, You Who burned with Your love even the hearts of those who crucified you, suffering the death of a slave in order to free His thing framed… Let us taste the sweetness of living next to you, having always and ever the consolation of your Divine presence.

O love, Who melted longing to meet that who was lost, choosing willingly to seek him in the depth of his ego’s hell, remove the old man from our hearts, so we may walk in newness of life.

O Nazarene, who put on the dress of humility, wearing the weakness of our nature, except the sin. Come and stay in the cave of our souls and cast away the weariness of our world, cleans it with the glimmer of virtue, so we become the children of Resurrection after your likeness.

O Lord, Who did not abhor our affliction from the days of old dwelling in our East, touch it with your Holy Spirit, so tranquility may find its path through their hearts, filling them with your hope. Calm down those hearts filled with human anger, and quiet by Your silence the noise of the raging wars in our beloved countries.

O God, Who spread his arms on the Cross of glory out of his love, spread out your hands and pull out of hearts the tendency to underestimate the other, teach us all, that Earth with all its good is worthy to be an earthly paradise which anticipates the heavenly One, so we may live the sweetness of life through love. Spread out your hands and pull out of the minds the tendency of eliminating the other, and nail with the power of your patience every violence, extremism and terrorism, showing us that the seeds of peace are much stronger than the thorns of terrorism.

Be, O Jesus, with our abducted brothers, all of them. Be with our abducted bishops John and Paul, alleviate their tribulation with the power of your holy name. Be with priests, orphans and all our abducted brothers in this beloved country. We ask you, O dear Lord to alleviate the tribulation of our displaced brothers as well, and to render us the power, despite our weakness, to console them with our love, as the two mites of the widow.

O dear God! From the middle of this Church, that held the name of your redemptive Cross as a guardian of Her children and Damascus, we ask You to spare Damascus and all parts of Syria the harm of war, and to cover Lebanon with the light of Your glorious Resurrection.

You are with us, O Jesus! You will always be with us, so we may chant for you while standing on the Golgotha of Your glory carrying the cross of our life: “Christ is risen from the dead, Trampling down death by death, And upon those in the tombs Bestowing life”

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