April 14, 2022
Orthodox Christians around the world begin Passion Week with Hosanna; Palm Sunday. In the Gospel of Saint John Lord and Savior Jesus Christ exultant Entrance into ancient Jerusalem is in scripted as, ‘The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast of Passover heard that Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (Saint John 12:12-15)
With the expectation of the Messiah, the “Anointed One,” and the events of the Lord Jesus’ ministry on earth, word traveled quickly around Judea that Jesus was the One whom the Prophets had spoken about and whom everyone was expecting. In the Biblical account, Our Lord Jesus performed a miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead, the miracle that foreshadowed His own glorious Resurrection next Sunday.
Now everyone is convinced that this is the Messiah-King who will save the Israelites; and the Lord Jesus fulfils the Prophecy of Zachariah, by entering Jerusalem on a colt of a donkey. All of Israel is preparing to go to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover, and the Lord enters also as the Salvific King who will save Israel not from the tyranny of the pagan Roman Empire, but from the curse of death through His own Passion, Death and Resurrection.
We celebrate these events as they happened not only in the past, but as they also happen today. We celebrate Lord Jesus Christ as the King who enters our hearts, as He enters Jerusalem. But is Jesus able to enter? Is there room in our hearts for Jesus to rule as our King? Often the doors of our own hearts are securely locked. Often the Lord is unable to enter because there is already another king of the heart – ourselves! How do we solve this problem, you ask me, of trying to let Jesus in? How do we implant within ourselves the one thing that is missing, the Son of God?
The answer is to surrender! Surrender to the will of Almighty God. Surrender your life to the One Who gave you life. We are constantly bound and held captive by the temporal things of this life. We are prisoners of our own selves, of this world, of our careers, of money, of the politicians who rule over us, we are even slaves to our own passions. The only way to find peace, to find true happiness, to experience true love is to surrender yourself to the Son of God, to make Him your King, to live in total communion with Him. The way in which we turn our hearts from the kingdom of the self into the Kingdom of Almighty God is through constant daily prayer, reflection, and meditation, frequent, and I speaking of weekly partaking of Holy Communion, frequent Confession of our sins to our Parish Priest or Spiritual Father, reading and understanding the Sacred Scriptures and as such.
Many people grumble about their inability of finding time to come to Church, time to pray and read the Scriptures, time to Fast, or for repentance and receive the Savior in Holy Communion, Since they are enslaved by their own longing. We shall have time for Almighty God, for it shall be His will to have time. Praise God, as He is constantly knocks at our door to enter to our hearts and our lives. Some of the Early Patristic Fathers go so far as comparing Almighty God to a crazed lover who constantly seeks to be with the one that He loves and who would do absolutely anything to be with the beloved ones. They have proved their love of God with the devotion, scarification and diligence within the spiritual life they led. But the Israelites during the Apostasy era, on Palm Sunday watching the miraculous entrance to Jerusalem, bestowed palm trees along His way!
Since the earliest days of Christianity Palm Sunday has been celebrated in our Church , but the use of Palms in connection with religious celebrations goes all the way back to Old Testament times. Oddly enough Palm trees did not grow around the city of Jerusalem in great numbers and people would often buy imported Palms for religious celebrations, in particular The Feast of Tabernacles celebrated at the Temple in Jerusalem. The Palm branch was used as a visual tool proclaiming the sovereignty of Almighty God as the true King of the Israelites
Today, as we receive our Palm branches, let us take them to our homes and place them somewhere where we can always see them. Let the Palms remind us that Christ Jesus is the King of our families, that Christ Jesus is the King of our hearts, that Christ Jesus is the only true answer to happiness and meaning in our lives. If we do proclaim Jesus as our King, let us make time for Him in our daily life, let us be reminded that He is the One with whom we will be spending eternity. Let us be reminded that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. Let us prioritize and place Jesus the King as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in such a confused and complex world.
Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! O King of Israel, Hosanna in the Highest!
Glory to Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Son of God!!!
Source: Ethiopian Orthodox Incarnation Church Homily