The Victory of the Cross
From "The Victory of the Cross" by Father Dumitru Staniloae (1903-1993)
Of the two thieves who were crucified with Christ one said, 'It is just that we should be thus condemned to death for we receive the payment of our transgressions, but this Man has done nothing evil'. These words tell us that there is no one except Christ who is not obliged to carry his cross with a certain justice and on account of a certain culpability. If our neighbours suspect our thoughts and intentions, it is almost always true that our thoughts towards them, or towards others, have not been filled with perfect love. If they criticize us it is because we have not always helped them in their own difficult circumstances. It is almost always certain that we have not given them all the help that we could have done, and have not opened our heart to them. If they forget the help which we have given them it is because we ourselves do not fully rejoice in the good things which have come to them because of the help which we have been able to give. If a tension or coldness exists between me and another person, it is almost certain that I am at least in part the cause of this tension or coldness, or at least that I have not done all that I could to get rid of it. Bad relationships between myself and other people nearly always have their roots in me as well as in the others. I ought to support the hostility of other people not only as a cross which I bear for myself but as a cross which I bear for them as well, since I carry this cross because, on account of the kind of person I am, they are not able to be in the relationship with me which they would wish to be. Every cross which has saving power is a cross which I carry not only on account of my own sins, but also on account of the sins of others. I should bend and bow in carrying my neighbor with his cross, and in bowing and bending I spiritually form the horizontal line, the humbling line of the cross, in order that the one whom I carry may form the vertical line as I carry him on my shoulders. Our moral weakness and powerlessness, our insufficient responsibility towards God and our neighbors, these form our cross.
Father Dumitru Staniloae (1903-1993)