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243Homily for 4/1/07 - Palm Sunday - The Lord is near

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  • Fr David Moser
    Apr 1, 2007
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      Phil 4:4-9; John 12:1-18

      The news of the miracle that we celebrated yesterday, the raising of
      Lazarus from the dead, spread quickly throughout the environs of
      Jerusalem. Our Lord Jesus Christ was already well known throughout the
      land because of the many miracles that he had performed and because of
      His preaching. Now He was nearby, at the home of Lazarus in Bethany.
      Then the news came that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem the people of that
      city began to get excited.

      In the meantime, Jesus Christ had instructed His disciples to go into
      the city to a certain place and there they would find a donkey with a
      colt. They were to take this donkey along with her colt and bring it to
      Him just outside the city. If anyone were to ask, all they were to reply
      was that “the Lord has need of it” and all would be well. Things went
      exactly as our Lord instructed them and they brought this colt, the foal
      of an ass, to Him. Our Lord sat on the colt and began to ride towards
      the gates of the city of Jerusalem. This action had great significance
      for in that land where everyone walked, to ride a donkey even was the
      prerogative of Kings. And the disciples, schooled in the Scripture,
      remembered the prophecy that the King would come to them riding on the
      colt of an ass. Inspired by this and recalling also their own
      recognition that Jesus was the son of God, the promised Messiah, began
      to cry out praising Him saying “Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of
      the Lord”. Lacking anything else, they took off their coats and laid
      them on the roadway as a kind of carpet on which Jesus would ride. When
      their coats were not enough, they began to strip branches from the
      nearby palm trees and lay them in the way. The people nearby, already
      excited at the prospect that the great teacher and prophet Jesus was
      nearby, observed the commotion and took up the praises of the disciples.
      They too began to offer their own coats and then to bring more branches
      to create this carpet for the King to ride on. Doing so, they took up
      the song of praise that the disciples were singing. As more people
      joined, the commotion got to be greater and the people inside the city
      heard what was happening and they too began to spill out of the gates of
      the city to meet the Lord and to join in giving Him a royal welcome to
      the city. Soon there was a solid mass of people laying a carpet of
      cloaks and palm branches on the road into Jerusalem and singing with
      joy, “Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the
      Lord!” welcoming our Lord Jesus Christ into the city as the promised
      Messiah and King of the Hebrew people.

      In the Epistle today we heard something that reminds us of this great
      entrance and of the state of the people. “Rejoice in the Lord always and
      again I say rejoice … The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing and
      fill your mind and heart with whatever things are true and noble and
      just and pure and full of virtue and praiseworthy” Today, we too see the
      coming of the King. The Lord is indeed near. Therefore, with rejoicing,
      we take up the cry, “Hosanna in the Highest, blessed is He Who comes in
      the Name of the Lord!”

      What a wonderful thing to realize, that the Lord is near. Now for the
      past 6 weeks we have struggled through Lent, working to draw near to God
      and now, we hear that our labor has not been in vain, but that the Lord
      is at hand. What great joy fills our hearts with this news that the
      object of our labor, the goal of this work that we have been doing
      together, is nearly upon us. And so the Apostle tells us first “Rejoice”
      and then continues to describe for us how the nearness of our Lord
      should affect us. He says first that we should be anxious for nothing,
      but that we put all of our requests, all of our needs and desires, in
      God’s hands. He has come and He will care for us. Does not the Gospel
      tell us that just as we give good things to those we love, so also our
      Lord will give to us good things and then as the Apostle reminds us, all
      things that God gives to us work together for the benefit of those who
      love the Lord. If we love God and put all of our trust in Him, then we
      can confidently receive everything that comes to us with thanksgiving,
      knowing that no matter what it is, all things are beneficial to the
      working out of our salvation. This is important to remember especially
      at the beginning of Holy Week, for during this week we will relive some
      of the darkest, most dreadful and painful moments in the life of Christ.
      With Him we will suffer, with Him we will be scourged and tortured, with
      Him we will ascend the cross and enter the tomb. But even in the midst
      of this there is the constant reminder that the Lord is near and that it
      is necessary only to depend on Him and He will not abandon us in the
      grave but that with Him we will also prevail over death and with Him we
      will rise from the grave and with Him we will ascend into Heaven and sit
      at the right hand of the Father. To this end the Apostle further
      instructs us that having laid all of our prayers, our needs and desires,
      in the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He will in turn fill us with
      His peace.

      In order to maintain this peace within us, knowing that the enemy of
      mankind will seek to destroy the gift of God in us, the Apostle tells us
      to guard our hearts and minds and so preserve God’s gift. In order to do
      this, he instructs us to focus our thoughts on those things which are
      true, those things which are just, those thing which are pure, those
      things which are lovely and of good report. And then also to further
      meditate on that which is virtuous and praiseworthy.

      In the coming week many things will be presented to us upon which we can
      fix our minds and heart and so guard the gift of joy and peace that God
      gives to us today. The approach of our Lord Jesus Christ to the cross is
      indeed Truth; He is the epitome of purity and even hanging upon the
      cross, when seen in the light of the hope of the resurrection, He is
      lovely. This week, above all others, we are inundated with these things,
      that we might fill our minds and hearts with them. In fact not only do
      we partake of these images, these remembrances and blessings now, but we
      also stockpile them within our hearts so as to be able to revisit them
      throughout the coming year. Although Holy Week is the most intense
      period of this remembrance, every week in our prayers we remember on
      Wednesday and Friday, the cross and on every Saturday (Sabbath) we
      remember the burial and on every Sunday we rejoice in the Resurrection.
      All that we experience in this upcoming Holy Week is recapitulated for
      us in a small way in every week of the year.

      The Lord is near and therefore rejoice in the Lord, again I say Rejoice!
      The Lord is near and therefore put all things in His hands, trust Him
      and be anxious for nothing and He will give to you His peace which
      surpasses all understanding. The Lord is near and so guard your souls by
      looking only upon that which is true and just and pure and lovely and of
      good report and virtuous and praiseworthy. Fill yourself with these good
      things for the Lord is near and when He arrives, when He breaks forth
      from the tomb and comes to us as to the Apostles in the upper room, we
      will be ready for Him. Today of all days as we sing hymns of praise to
      our Lord let us remember that He is near and is coming soon to us.
      Rejoice, and again I say rejoice. Hosanna in the Highest, blessed is He
      Who comes in the name of the Lord.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org