The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John. (12:1-18)
Yesterday we celebrated the raising of Lazarus from the dead after 4 days. As we have previously mentioned, this miracle is directly related to the feast that we are celebrating today, Palm Sunday, our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem. St. John the evangelist tells us that the reason why the people clamored to Jesus was because He had just done this startling sign and wonder. So the people flocked in droves to see this man who might be the messiah, the anointed holy one, and to see Lazarus who was raised from the dead.
The Lord Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. The One who can ride upon the chariots of fire and be carried by a multitude of Angels, rides on a humble and lowly donkey. When an emperor or king would enter a city after a great battle, they would come either on horse drawn chariots or on a beautiful and majestic horse. But the Lord who will indeed be victorious reminds us that His victory will not be through military might and power. It will be the victory through humility. We are constantly reminded that in the Christian life, the only way up…is down. We rise, or rather, are raised to honor and glory through our willingness to put ourselves beneath others and submit ourselves to others. It is a sentiment that is in utter contradiction to the messages of the world around us.
The Lord entered into Jerusalem and He heard the cries of the people, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” Hosanna means “Save me, I pray” or “I pray that you will save me.” And this exactly what the people cried to Him. But we know that He was not swept up in their celebrations. He heard them cry “Hosanna!” but He knew that in a few days many of the same people would cry out, “Crucify Him!”
He heard that the people cried out to be saved, but He alone understood what that would mean for Him.
He saw that the people pushed to try and catch a glimpse of Him, and perhaps He knew that some of the same people would line the streets as He walked to Golgotha on Holy Friday.
He was carried into Jerusalem by a Donkey, He who would carry the weight of our sins upon His very shoulders.
He entered the city with His disciples by His side, but not one would remain when the guards came to arrest Him later in the week.
The people flocked to see Lazarus, the man who had died but later they would flock to see the God-Man, as He was led to His death.
The One who heard the people cry “Hosanna!” carried this cry deep in His heart as He also heard mockers crying out “Save yourself and come down from the cross!”
We are awestruck by the depth of His mercy and love for mankind.
I want to leave you with a quote from St. Andrew of Crete from one of his Palm Sunday homilies,
“So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him.
We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory.
Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song:
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.”