Two sermons for the beginning of Holy Week
From: Fr Steven Allen <frsteven@...>
Subject: Two sermons for the beginning of Holy Week
To: "Fr. Steven Allen" <frsteven@...>
Date: Sunday, April 28, 2013, 5:25 PM
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Spyridon,All of us who belong to the Genuine Church of Greece will ever remember with gratitude our benefactor, the Holy Confessor Metropolitan Philaret of New York, under whose leadership the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1969 recognized the consecrations of our episcopacy performed by bishops of the ROCOR in the early 1960's. He was truly a pillar of Faith in these latter times, confessing boldly against the pan-heresy of ecumenism and giving all an example of prayer, asceticism and pastoral love.Here are two sermons of St. Philaret, one for Palm Sunday and one for Lazarus Saturday.with love in Christ,Fr. Steven
Father Steven Allen
St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church
24301 Greater Mack Avenue
St. Clair Shores, MI 48080 USA
Phone: +1 (586) 773-9750
Mobile: +1 (586) 707-2918
Sermon on Palm Sunday
by Saint Philaret
Today we prayerfully and solemnly remember the Royal entrance of the King of Glory, the Lord Jesus Christ into His “royal capital,” the holy city of Jerusalem.
Noisy was the crowd of Judeans when Christ entered the city before the beginning of Passover. Millions flocked to Jerusalem during those days, and it was already overfilled with people when the ceremonious, royal greeting of the long-awaited Messiah, Savior of the world commenced.
Holy Evangelist John the Theologian notes in his Gospel that before the Lord entered Jerusalem, word of his miracle of the raising of Lazarus performed by Jesus Christ spread like wildfire among the people; news of this astounding miracle lifted the spirits of everyone who revered and loved the Savior. After this, as Holy Evangelist Luke tells us, everyone began joyfully praising God for the wondrous Signs they had seen over this time. It must be noted that the Apostles desired that their Teacher would come to Jerusalem to be glorified there, as an earthly king would be. They thought that this moment had arrived, that Christ enters Jerusalem with Royal glory specifically in order to assume His Throne and reign as king; and they joyously exclaimed: “Hosanna in the highest, blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.” The people’s exultation was so great that they lay their clothing on the path upon which the Savior traveled, cutting palm fronds and other greenery, blanketing the way for Him, following along, holding these fronds in their hands as symbols of triumph and celebration.
Great was the elation of the Apostles and the people. But this most holy Honoree of the celebration did not partake of this rejoicing; on the contrary, as Holy Evangelist Luke says, as they approached Jerusalem and the splendor of the Holy City was revealed to them, Christ the Savior, contrary to the celebration of all who surrounded Him, wept as He beheld the city and said: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes! For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”
The Lord knew how fickle the people were, and how unstable is the mob. In His omniscience, He saw that a week would not pass as the cries “Hosanna to the Son of David” would change to “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” and that these dreaded words would be screamed by the very same people who greeted Him with elation. This filled His Most-Holy Soul with profound sadness. One thing was truly consoling and joyful for the Savior as he entered the Temple: the pure children’s voices, who from the pureness of their souls and their pure hearts exclaimed to Him: “Hosanna to the Son of David.” The Lord rejoiced at this, for this was the pure ebullience of children, and the children, being children, rejoiced with all their hearts and celebrated, without properly understanding what was happening, but expressing to Him their elation and love directly.
We now remember this and celebrate; but we also remember according to the words of the Church that this day is not only one of celebration but pre-celebratory. For if tomorrow is the day we call “Palm Sunday,” or the “Entrance of the Lord to Jerusalem,” the following Sunday is the Feast Day of Feast Days—the Holy Pascha of Christ, which every believing soul hopes to survive to see by God’s mercy and to greet this day with more celebration and joy.
And between these two great Holidays, between these two Sundays, is Passion Week, with its wealth of remembrances during divine services, words of prayer and sacramental acts. So let us try, beloved ones, to draw as much as we can from the riches of Passion Week. This is a special, grace-filled and sacred time in the church year. He who takes advantage of every opportunity during the days of Passion Week, especially in the final three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, will attend church as often as possible. He who wasn’t able to come to church before and only comes during these holy days will be astounded by the beauty of the prayers and the sacraments, and will berate himself top to bottom that he had neglected this before, and deprived himself of this spiritual bounty and edification. The Church offers these treasures to us now. Let us try to take advantage of them, and, sanctifying and edifying ourselves with the holy services of Passion Week, greet Holy Pascha as we should! Amen.http://www.synod.com/synod/engdocuments/enart_metfilaretpalmsunday.htmlhttp://www.synod.com/synod/engrocor/enser_metfilaretlazarus.html
Sermon on Lazarus Saturday
by St. Philaret (Voznesensky, +1985)
of Eastern America and New York
It often happens that a child does a bad thing, and his father properly punishes him. But when he sees the child crying in sorrow, parental love takes hold and the father seeks to console the punished child.
A terrible sentence was imposed upon our fallen ancestors living in the Garden of Eden. The Lord, after their terrible sin, when they betrayed Him and heeded the tempter, His enemy, said: “thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken,” that is “unto dust thou shalt return.” In this way the Lord sentenced our ancestors and their progeny to death, for before this, mankind was not to taste death. Having no sin, man could not before then die and would have lived forever, but after that, he became the prey of death. But our Lord knows that death is terrifying for man, that nothing terrifies him more. That is why, in order to ease the very thought of death, in order to alleviate this fear, the Lord performed His wondrous deeds of which we read in the Holy Gospel.
In particular, He performed the miracle we remember today, the greatest of His miracles—the Raising of Lazarus.
The Lord had earlier told the Apostles: “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” He said that the moment would come when those in the grave would hear the voice of the Son of God and would emerge alive. And yet death, which destroys the body of man, horrifies us. And the Lord, consoling us, encouraging us, made an example of Lazarus, who, hearing the voice of the Son of God, came out of his tomb. He spoke, His Omnipotent Voice shook the depths of hell, and Lazarus, whose body had already begun to decay, came out of the tomb alive, unharmed and in good health.
Today’s holiday is for this reason especially close to our hearts, especially joyful. Today we celebrate our future resurrection. In seven or days the Holiday of Holidays will arrive, the Triumph of All Triumphs, when we will celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, “raising us with Him,” as the Church sings. And so to illustrate how this will occur, how the dead will rise from their graves to the sound of the voice of the Son of God, the Lord raised the dead Lazarus. That this is so is declared by the troparion which will be sung today and tomorrow: “By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your Passion, You confirmed the universal resurrection, O Christ God!”—that is, it confirmed that there will be resurrection for all.
Our souls are filled with special joy on this day, a brilliant joy, because death ceases to terrify us. How unfortunate are the godless! Of course, we know that they are in error, that man is not annihilated after death. But these poor folks think that death comes and everything comes to an end, the person is dead, his body is killed and there is no question of any life. All their talk about how their leaders live in eternity in the hearts of their followers are simply nonsense!
The human soul does not seek this, it seeks only an escape from the fear of death. The Lord grants it, for after all He had done for us, it turns out that death is not disappearance into the abyss of non-existence, but only a temporary slumber, but longer than earthly sleep. But sleep nonetheless, for with His Almighty Voice, He will wake us all at a time known only to Him so that we pass into eternity.
How bright and happy is this day! The human soul cannot but tremble with elation because, again, we are celebrating our universal resurrection! Remember this, o human soul, and thank your Lord for His great mercy to you.