Carrying the Cross through Forgiveness

On the Sunday after the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, Fr. Matthew Howell uses the gospel reading (Mark 8:34-9:1) to talk about the two hardest parts of carrying one’s cross: 1) Walking the path of repentance in all humility and honesty; 2) Forgiving someone who has hurt you even though they are not asking for forgiveness, trying to make amends, or even acknowledging their offense. He talks the Christ’s forgiveness of His enemies while hanging on the cross, and speaks frankly about the sudden retirement of Metropolitan Joseph. He finishes his homily by reading the two prayers below about forgiveness.


A Prayer by StJohn Damascene (from Orthodox Christian Prayers, St. Tikhon Monastery Press published 2021, p. 156)

“Grant mercy, O Lord, to them that hate me, or oppose me, or wrong me, or slander me, so that none of them may suffer any evil in any way — whether in this present age or in the age to come — on account of me, an unclean sinner. Cleanse them instead by thy mercy and protect them, O Good One, by thy grace.”

“As we forgive those who trespass against us” by Mother Alexandra (from Our Father: Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer, The Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration published 2017, p. X).

“As I forgive, I ask to be forgiven! As I forgive N. (think of the person you most dislike), how little mercy I deserve, for how little am I able to myself to forgive! Were I to be judged as I judge others, what hope do I have?

O Lord, move my heart to love and forgiveness. Teach me true compassion, with kindliness to look upon my neighbors’ faults. Still within me the aggravations of this day and my unjust criticisms, let me see myself as I truly am, help me to judge my own reactions rather than dwell upon those of others. Help me to banish from my heart and memory all resentments, anger and annoyance. Even there where my dislike is justified, temper my feelings with charity and contrition for my own share in the world’s sin. May I this night and at all times forgive seventy times seven and be worthy of Thee and not have to fear Thy judgment, for Thou art faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Amen.”

Galatians 2:16-20

Brethren, knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Mark 8:34-38; 9:1

The Lord said: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.