When Christ invites us into heaven He says, “Whoever desires to follow Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me.” This invitation can only be accepted when we are willing to deny ourselves, or as we would say in our contemporary language, we must get over ourselves. Our American way of life teaches us the lie that we can do, have, and be whatever we want. In truth, we cannot have anything just because we desire it. We will never take up our cross, and therefore never enter heaven until we get over ourselves. It is the life of the Cross.
The past six months have been quite a struggle for us, both our Cathedral Community, and for us as citizens in general. Whether we agree with one side or the other about the proper precautions and safety measures put in place by the Church, or our local, State and Federal governments, one thing is certain; we have been forced to place the needs of others before our own.
Arguably the most popular scripture passage quoted at a sporting event reminds us of God’s love. John 3.16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life,” isn’t just a teaching about how much God loves us, but how much He wants us to love others. Even though we do not live up to the standards God has established for, and though we are not worthy of His love, STILL God endured the Cross so that we could live. Today God is calling us to love others in the same way He loves us.
For those of us Gentiles in the Church, we are reminded that we were brought into the Church by Christ because the Jews were disobedient to God. That’s good news for us. However, Saint Paul reminds us that we are strangers, adopted into the Church, and if God removed the Jews who were native to the Church, He will not hesitate to remove us if we are disobedient and selfish with the Church. Then there is the really good news! There is still time for us. We are still able to change and live obedient lives, producing fruit for God.
The Commandments of God, whether they are in the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the Holy Canons of the Church, are meant for one singular purpose. We do not obey the laws of the Church just for the sake of being obedient, but to train our hearts to learn to live and to love as God wants us to live and to love. God invites us to leave everything else aside to follow Him and to love others more than we love ourselves. Keeping the Commandments of God, if we are willing, will shape us.