The Holy Cross

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

The Holy Altar of St Gregorios Orthodox Church, Sharjah

The Holy Cross is the most significant object in the sanctuary and holds a unique powerful place, in the Christian faith, Christian tradition and in the worship of the Orthodox Church. It is kept at the top center of the Holy Altar, placed directly in between the Candlesticks, to be prominently and conveniently seen by the laity, as the Cross is the focal point of liturgical action and worship, main instrument of salvation and proof of human redemption. It is normally wooden but can be ornamental, but without any graven image of crucifix on it. Church prohibits use of graven image on the Cross, as our focus is on the Resurrected Cross.

It is placed at the Center of the altar, representing, and showing the presence of our Risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To a worshiper, the sight of cross should bring home memories of Christ’s Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven and an awareness of Christ’s presence in worship. The Cross has provided, us Christians with a means of remembering that we are a redeemed people, the love with which Christ loved us, His endurance and forgiveness; the Incarnation and its aim, the Holy Trinity, our sins and His great power that defeated the devil, how we should be crucified with Him and the promise of Eternal life with Him.  The Holy Cross is the real and historical Divine Altar of Christianity; the altar on which Jesus Christ ‘sacrificed, once and for all, – ‘so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many…..’ (Heb. 9: 28). It should remind us of our Lord’s sacrifice on Mount Golgotha, the Risen Christ, and His victory over death and sin.

The Cross is a sign of Christ’s sacrificial love and Adam’s salvation.  St. Gregory the Theologian, said, “humanity has been saved through being unified with God. So, the incarnation, along with crucifixion, can fulfill salvation. The Cross then is an essential matter in the process of salvation”. The Cross reminds us of peace, victory, and salvation. The Cross is not a symbol, it possesses spiritual power. It is the weapon in the struggle and fight against Satan and evil. The Cross is ‘the power of God’ (1 Cor. 1: 18) for those who desire to be saved, that is for those who believe. 

The Holy Cross is the image of love and sacrifice, foreshadowing the Resurrection and Eternal Life. The top of the Cross stands for love, bottom for humility, right side for obedience and left side for patience. It represents vertical relation between God and humanity and horizontal relation between people. It stands in the center of universe; its ends extend infinitely to four corners of the universe and brings to subjection, the breadth, length, height, and depth of the creations’ – may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’ (Eph 3: 18). It stands in the center of the human history and thus culminates its dominion to the past present and the future.

The Cross represents supreme and divine love of suffering and self-renunciation. Jesus laid down a hard condition to follow him that is to take up ones’ cross, Mat 10:38, 16:24, Mk 8:34, Lk 9:23. Cross is symbol of unity between Jews and Gentiles; and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the Cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Eph 2:16). In the divine power of the Cross, the Apostle Paul rejoiced despite his human sorrows and distress (cf. Gal. 6, 14). The Cross is “the divine seal” on the forehead of the faithful, seal by which they escape visible and invisible enemies and plagues. By His sufferings on the Cross our Lord Jesus Christ washed away the sins of mankind, conquered the devil, abolished death, and opened the way to eternal life for man. The Cross bears witness to God’s infinite love for sinful mankind. Carrying his own cross, Jesus went out to the place of the Skull. The place that today we call Calvary. Here they crucified him. (John 19: 17,18). The Holy Cross is the Tree of Calvary that brought life and salvation to us, paving the path to eternity with Christ.


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