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Homily for 4/8/12 - Palm Sun - Freedome from Enslavement

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  • Fr David Moser
    John 12:1-18 Having raised Lazarus from the dead, our Lord now turns his face to Jerusalem. Lazarus, along with his sisters Mary and Martha, lived in the town
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 8, 2012
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      John 12:1-18

      Having raised Lazarus from the dead, our Lord now turns his face to
      Jerusalem. Lazarus, along with his sisters Mary and Martha, lived in the
      town of Bethany which is near Jersusalem, but just on the other side of
      the Mount of Olives. The news of the raising of Lazarus had spread
      throughout all the region for it was a great miracle – something never
      before seen, even in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Lazarus had been in
      the tomb for 4 days – according to the belief of the Jews, the soul
      remained near the body for 3days, visiting the places that were dear to
      it during life, but at the 4th day the soul had already departed into
      the afterlife. While the soul was near the body, it seemed that it could
      be enticed, or commanded, to reanimate the body – and this was supported
      by Jesus’ previous resurrection miracles for the son of the widow of
      Nain or the daughter of Jairus had only just died . But Lazarus had been
      dead 4 days and the soul (in the mind of the people) had truly departed
      for the next life and could not be recalled. Thus, when Jesus called
      Lazarus out of the tomb, it was a greater miracle – one which clearly
      demonstrated His divine nature.

      But now He began to look toward Jerusalem, and just as He had wept at
      the tomb of Lazarus when he saw the unbelief of the people, He wept
      again when he saw how the people of Jerusalem were caught up and
      enslaved by their passions. There was no anchor, no constancy in them,
      for they would praise Him one day and condemn Him the next being caught
      up and ruled by their passions. Jesus wept for them and weeps for us for
      He sees how we are enslaved by our own passions and swept along by their
      whim, powerless to resist.

      As Jesus came near to the city He sent his disciples to retrieve for him
      a donkey upon which he would ride. This was actually considered a great
      honor, for in those days donkeys were too important to be wasted
      carrying a person who could just as easily walk – donkeys were needed to
      carry things that couldn’t move. The privilege of riding a donkey was,
      in the Old Testament, an honor reserved for the King alone. In sitting
      atop the donkey, Jesus demonstrated to the disciples and to all the
      people that He was indeed the promised King who would come to set them
      free and rule over them in peace. But He was not there to establish an
      earthly kingdom and to set them free from their earthly rulers – He is
      the heavenly king and He has come to set us free from the tyrant of our
      passions which rule over us as a harsh and demanding slavemaster.

      St Ignatii Brianchaninov expands on this idea saying: “Here is another
      meaning of the colt of an ass. It is an image of every person who is led
      by irrational desires, deprived of spiritual freedom, attached to the
      passions and habits of fleshly life. Christ’s teaching looses the ass
      from its attachment; that is, from fulfilling its sinful and fleshly
      will. Then the Apostles lead the ass to Christ, place their garments
      upon it; the Lord seats Himself upon it and makes His entry upon it into
      Jerusalem. This means that the person who has left his sinful life is
      led to the Gospels, and is clothed as if in apostolic vestments, in the
      most detailed and refined knowledge of Christ and His commandments. Then
      the Lord seats Himself upon him by spiritually appearing to him and
      spiritually abiding in him, as it was His good will to promise: He that
      hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he
      that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and
      will manifest myself to him (Jn. 14:21). And my Father will love him,
      and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (Jn. 14:23). The
      Lord’s coming is accompanied by peace surpassing words and
      comprehension; peace that is full of grace, and worthy of the one Who
      grants it—the Lord. This peace is not to be compared with the natural
      rest of fallen man, who may feel rest and pleasure from fleshly
      delights, and who may consider his own insensibility, his own eternal
      death, to be rest. The Lord is seated upon the natural qualities of the
      person who has submitted to Him and has assimilated His all-holy
      teachings; and He leads that person into the spiritual city of God, the
      city of peace—into the Jerusalem created by God, and not by man.

      “The soul that upholds the Lord is greeted by the Holy Spirit, Who
      offers that soul spiritual joy which is incorruptible and eternal.
      Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, the daughter of the Holy
      Church—because you belong to no one but God. Proclaim it aloud, O
      daughter of Jerusalem; behold, the King is coming to thee, just, and a
      Savior; he is meek and riding on an ass, and a young foal (Zach. 9:9).
      You have felt the grace-filled peace of Christ, and become a daughter of
      this peace; you have been renewed with spiritual youth and have come to
      know Christ’s Kingdom by experience. The passions are tamed in you by
      the grace-filled power of the Rider Who steers you; your natural
      qualities cannot break their natural laws, they cannot go beyond their
      boundaries and be transformed into uncontrolled passions! Taking all
      your thoughts, feelings and actions from the Lord, you can and must
      proclaim the Name of the Lord to your brethren, and hymn Him in the
      midst of the Church (Ps. 21:22). As one born of the Holy Spirit and a
      daughter of the Spirit, you are able to behold the spiritual procession
      of your King, you are able to behold the righteousness of your King. He
      is meek and lowly in heart (Mt. 11:29), and He will guide the meek in
      judgment, He will teach the meek His ways (Ps. 24:9). Our God is a
      Spirit which is incomparable to any created spirit, as He is in all
      aspects infinitely different from all creatures. The holy created
      spirits are His thrones and chariots. He is seated and rides upon the
      Cherubim; He is seated and rides upon those blessed human souls who have
      submitted to Him and brought all their natural qualities to Him as a
      whole burnt offering. The King rides upon such souls, and enters the
      holy city of God, bringing holy souls into it also. Hosanna in the
      highest! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh. Amen.”

      So you see, today, with our palms and branches of willow, we celebrate
      the victory of the Great King. We celebrate not a political victory or
      some athletic championship but rather we celebrate the victory of our
      freedom. Jesus Christ has seen our cruel enslavement to our passions and
      out of His love for us He is moved to tears. He weeps not only for those
      at the tomb of Lazarus who did not believe, or those in Jerusalem who
      were led to and fro by their feelings and passions; He weeps also for us
      who are enslaved by our passions and unable to do any good thing on our
      own. He not only weeps for us, but He steps in and frees us from our
      enslavement to our passions. Having come to us and taken the reins of
      our lives instead, He then teaches us by His word and fills us with His
      Holy Spirit empowering us to follow Him. He then instead guides us into
      His Kingdom leading us into His presence, not as slaves but as His own
      sons and heirs to live in His presence, enjoying eternal union and
      communion with Him.

      --
      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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