Archbishop’s Teaching

1st Sunday of the Season of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross The claim of the sons of Zebedee Mark 10:35-45

The Time of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Homily of His Excellency Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

1st Sunday of the Season of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
The claim of the sons of Zebedee
Mark 10:35-45

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
1. “Teacher, we want to ask you to do something for us.”
The Lord listens to us. He is attentive, he never stops looking at us with immense tenderness, and none of our prayers is indifferent to him. Like James and John, we too can have the confidence to approach and ask. However, the answer may surprise us. We are entering the complex world of communication. To understand someone, you have to know him. To understand the Lord's answers (or silence), it is important to know him, otherwise we risk not understanding and misinterpreting... His answer is often not what we expected, as was the case with the sons of Zebedee. But fortunately, He doesn't let our expectations limit Him. He is patient and kind, and he does not let us down. Being a person, albeit divine, to know and understand the Lord, it is essential to spend time with him. He desires to establish a personal relationship, to make a covenant with each of us.
2. The Son of Man came to lay down his life for the many:
This is the mystery of our redemption. God bursts into our lives. And in a surprising way. We can discover this every day, every time we look at the crucifix. He is there for me! What a mystery! How did God look down on man from Heaven to reach this decision? What a place I must have in God's heart for him to do this for me! Saint Paul helps us to enter into the mystery: “Christ died for us when we were unable to help ourselves. We were living against God, but at just the right time Christ died for us. Very few people will die to save the life of someone else, even if it is for a good person. Someone might be willing to die for an especially good person. But Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us.". (Romans 5:6-8)
What a paradox! The Creator who deserves praise and honor, and to be served by all, says himself: "I did not come to be served, but to serve"; while we and the world so often proclaim "I don't have to serve you" or "serve me". Is God a "loser", or would there not be a happiness hidden behind this way of doing things, or better, this way of being?
3. In any case, He invites us to do so:
"The cup I am about to drink, you shall drink from; and the baptism I am about to be immersed in, you shall receive." Our first reaction to this invitation may be a certain fear, for we are well aware that the baptism in question is the passion and the cross. We also know that, as Christians, we follow Christ. But the cross does not attract us any more for that.... But let us come closer to the heart of Jesus, to Jesus on that cross, to that pierced heart. We who suffer this infinite thirst to be loved, there are arms always open to welcome us and this heart burning with love for us. Let us drink from Christ's cup. And once we're close to this inexhaustible spring,
when we see our thirsty brothers and sisters, how not to give them a little of this water that never runs dry, how can we not serve them so that they can taste God's love for them, and let them discover the hope that animates us.
Lord, I ask you to let me know what it means to die to myself, so that you can live in me. Grant me more courage to bear the crosses of everyday life.

† Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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