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4/17/11 - Palm Sunday - eternal joy

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  • Fr David Moser
    John 12:1-18 Today is a day of great joy and rejoicing, for today, our Lord Jesus Christ enters into the city of Jerusalem to the praises of the people
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17, 2011
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      John 12:1-18

      Today is a day of great joy and rejoicing, for today, our Lord Jesus
      Christ enters into the city of Jerusalem to the praises of the people
      welcoming Him with great enthusiasm. Because of the raising of Lazarus,
      He had gained a great reputation among the Jews. This was something
      never before seen - that a man who had been dead four days, whose body
      had begun to rot was restored to life. Previously, Jesus had raised the
      dead - the widow’s son, and the daughter of Jairus, for example - but
      they had died only a short time before and their spirits were believed
      to be still nearby, hoping to return to the body. But Lazarus had been
      dead 4 days, he had already been laid in the tomb and when Jesus
      proposed that they open the tomb, many complained that the body had
      begun to smell of rotting flesh. The soul of Lazarus had fled and there
      was no longer any hope of return - but our Lord Jesus Christ proved
      stronger than death, and restoring Lazarus to life, He also restored the
      body to health. Because of this great miracle, Jesus was widely regarded
      now as the greatest of the prophets, and perhaps even the coming
      messiah. So as the people heard that He was coming into the city, they
      began to gather to see Him and a spontaneous celebration broke out as
      they paved his way with palm branches and their own garments and shouted
      out praises such as “Hosanna in the highest” and “Blessed is the King of
      Israel Who comes in the name of the Lord”. Hope was running high that
      this great person - who had shown Himself to be greater than even death
      - was now coming to the city of Jerusalem and perhaps this would be the
      promised one who would deliver His people from their worldly oppressors.
      The people rejoiced and were filled with joy.

      In the epistle we heard today, the holy Apostle Paul also encourages us
      to be filled with joy saying, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say
      rejoice”. He encourages us to continue this joy of the triumphal entry
      welcoming our Lord Jesus Christ Who is the master over death and
      suffering and Who can deliver each of us from our enslavement to sin,
      death and the devil. Hearing these words of the Apostle, it is easy to
      imagine that he was at that time enjoying the joys of life and that he
      too had great hope. However, this is not necessarily the case - for at
      the time that he wrote this letter to the Philippians, the Holy Apostle
      Paul was imprisoned in Rome waiting to be tried and sent to death during
      the persecutions of the emperor Nero. If any man had cause to complain,
      to be concerned, to be sorrowful and to speak of suffering it was the
      Holy Apostle Paul at this time for he was about to go to his death. But
      instead he speaks to us of joy and rejoicing, even in such a dire

      Our Lord Jesus Christ, at the time of His triumphal entry also knew that
      in a few short days, the cries and praises of the people would turn from
      “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him” and that soon He too would suffer the
      beatings and tortures of death on the cross and finally that He, Who is
      the Immortal God, would suffer death at the hands of the very people who
      this day welcomed Him with palm branches and shouts of praise. The joy
      of the people, because it was founded on the joys of this world and to
      worldly hopes and dreams would be shortlived - whereas the joy of the
      Apostle endured even in the face of suffering and death because it was
      founded on the hope of the resurrection and the love of God Who is
      greater than suffering and death. It is to this greater joy to which we
      Christians are called.

      How is it then that we acquire this lasting joy, how is it that we can
      imitate the Holy Apostle Paul and “rejoice always” even in the face of
      suffering and impending torture and death. The Holy Apostle in his
      letter goes on to tell us how it is that we can dwell in this eternal
      joy for he says, “in every thing by prayer and supplication with
      thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. … Finally,
      brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
      whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever
      things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any
      virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

      First we must put all of our hope on God as he says, “in everything by
      prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God”. God is
      our good and beloved Father and He provides for each of us what is
      needed for this life. He provides for us not what is needed for our
      luxury and comfort and the satisfaction of our passions in this passing
      and temporary worldly existence (as He said, the things of this world
      will pass away) but rather He provides in this life the things that we
      will need to work out our salvation, to begin even now, while still
      living in this temporal world, to begin living in the eternal kingdom of
      heaven. The purpose of this life is not joy and pleasure and enjoyment
      and satisfaction of the passions, nor is it fame and fortune and wealth
      - the purpose of this life is to prepare for eternal life in the Kingdom
      of God and so that we might begin living that life, God gives us those
      things which are most helpful in casting off the cares of this world and
      to begin living in and perceiving the joys of the next. And so if we
      wish to begin experiencing this lasting heavenly joy, we must look
      beyond this world and put all of our dependence on God’s provision to
      bring us into His kingdom.

      In casting our care upon God the apostle also reminds us that our
      supplication should also be accompanied by thanksgiving. Give thanks to
      God for each and every gift that He gives you constantly throughout the
      day. Do not let a day or a moment go by that you do not thank God for
      His help and provision. Everything that comes to us in this life is a
      gift from God - a tool to use in living in the eternal Kingdom - and so
      even if we do not yet understand how these things are used by God to
      bring us joy, we can have faith in Him that He does indeed care for us
      and that eventually these things will bring us into His Kingdom. Our joy
      is not founded upon what does or does not happen, it is not dependent
      upon what small pleasures happen to come our way - it is founded rather
      on faith and trust in the love and care of God for us. The joys of this
      world are passing and soon are lost and gone beyond our grasp - but the
      love of God is everlasting and never passes away.

      Finally the Holy Apostle also instructs us that not only should we put
      all of our trust in God and with thanksgiving place all of our requests
      and cares before Him, but that we should also learn to focus on
      perceiving those things which are the evidences of the Kingdom of God
      and which bring about this true and lasting joy. Surround yourself with
      the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good
      report. Seek out virtue and praise of God and think on these things.
      Fill your environment with heavenly things and you will more quickly
      perceive the joys of heaven. Be careful of the kinds of things with
      which you fill your environment in this life. Choose those things which
      will encourage in you the development of virtue and which lead to the
      praise of God. Reject those things which cause you to sin and to be
      attached to this world.

      Therefore choose what is true over that which is false. Seek out the
      truth revealed to us by God; the true faith, the true worship of God
      which is presented to us by His Holy Church and live in this truth. Our
      Christian faith is not simply a system of belief but it is a way of life
      - something that permeates each day and each moment of each day and
      affects the way that we live. Do not restrict your Christian faith to
      one day a week or even to certain times during the day, but endeavor
      instead to devote the whole of your life to living in the Truth of
      Christ. Surround yourself with things that are pure and lovely - do not
      let your eyes see, your ears hear, or your senses perceive those things
      which are impure, which defile you, which tempt you to sin - but rather
      fill your environment with those things which bring about thoughts and
      feelings of love of God and praise for Him. Search out the virtues in
      your life and encourage them, practice them that you might become
      accustomed to the virtues in your life - and at the same time turn away
      from vice and sin - those things which chain you to this world and which
      drag you down to the depths of hell and back into demonic enslavement.
      Reject all which is evil, false, impure, and instead search out those
      things which are good and pure and holy and true. In this way you
      surround yourself with the things of the Kingdom of God and from them
      begin to experience this same joy of which the Apostle speaks, this joy
      which transcends this world and which is eternal and constant.

      When He entered into Jerusalem to the shouts and praises of the people,
      our Lord brought to us this eternal joy of His heavenly Kingdom. Do not
      be foolish, like those who praised Him one day and condemned Him the
      next, as they rejected the joy of eternal life taking instead the
      transitory joy of the world which depends on the passing pleasures and
      comforts of this world. Rather strive to be like the Holy Apostle Paul,
      who had grasped this heavenly joy and could say even in the midst of
      suffering and in the face of imminent death, “Rejoice, and again I say
      to you rejoice.” This is the joy that our Lord brings to us today - true
      eternal joy that is rooted and founded in the Kingdom of God.

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