April 8 (old calendar) / April 21 (new)
ENTRY OF OUR LORD INTO JERUSALEM. Palm Sunday
Holy Apostles of the Seventy: Herodion, Agabus, Asyncritus, Rufus, Phlegon, Hermes, and those with them (1st c.). St. Niphon, Bishop of Novgorod (1156). Ven. Rufus the Obedient, of the Kiev Caves (Far Caves—14th c.). Martyr Pausilippus of Heraclea in Thrace (2nd c.). St. Celestine, Pope of Rome (432). The SPANISH Icon of the Most-holy Theotokos.
ENTRY OF OUR LORD INTO JERUSALEM
Palm Sunday is the celebration of the triumphant entrance of Christ into the royal city of Jerusalem. He rode on a colt for which He Himself had sent, and He permitted the people to hail Him publicly as a king. A large crowd met Him in a manner befitting royalty, waving palm branches and placing their garments in His path. They greeted Him with these words: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! (John 12:13).
This day together with the raising of Lazarus are signs pointing beyond themselves to the mighty deeds and events which consummate Christ’s earthly ministry. The time of fulfillment was at hand. Christ’s raising of Lazarus points to the destruction of death and the joy of resurrection which will be accessible to all through His own death and resurrection. His entrance into Jerusalem is a fulfillment of the messianic prophecies about the king who will enter his holy city to establish a final kingdom. “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass” (Zech 9:9).
Finally, the events of these triumphant two days are but the passage to Holy Week: the “hour” of suffering and death for which Christ came. Thus the triumph in a earthly sense is extremely short-lived. Jesus enters openly into the midst of His enemies, publicly saying and doing those things which mostly enrage them. The people themselves will soon reject Him. They misread His brief earthly triumph as a sign of something else: His emergence as a political messiah who will lead them to the glories of an earthly kingdom.
The liturgy of the Church is more than meditation or praise concerning past events. It communicates to us the eternal presence and power of the events being celebrated and makes us participants in those events. Thus the services of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday bring us to our own moment of life and death and entrance into the Kingdom of God: a Kingdom not of this world, a Kingdom accessible in the Church through repentance and baptism.
On Palm Sunday palm and willow branches are blessed in the Church. We take them in order to raise them up and greet the King and Ruler of our life: Jesus Christ. We take them in order to reaffirm our baptismal pledges. As the One who raised Lazarus and entered Jerusalem to go to His voluntary Passion stands in our midst, we are faced with the same question addressed to us at baptism: “Do you accept Christ?” We give our answer by daring to take the branch and raise it up: “I accept Him as King and God!”
Thus, on the eve of Christ’s Passion, in the celebration of the joyful cycle of the triumphant days of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, we reunite ourselves to Christ, affirm His Lordship over the totality of our life, and express our readiness to follow Him to His Kingdom:
… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11).
Very Rev. Paul Lazor
1st Troparion of the Feast, tone 1
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, / You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God! / Like the children with the palms of victory, / We cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death; / Hosanna in the Highest! / Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
2nd Troparion of the Feast, tone 4
When we were buried with You in Baptism, O Christ God, / We were made worthy of eternal life by Your Resurrection! / Now we praise You and sing: / Hosanna in the highest! / Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Kontakion of the Feast, tone 6
Sitting on Your throne in heaven, / Carried on a foal on earth, O Christ God! / Accept the praise of angels and the songs of children who sing: / Blessed is He that comes to recall Adam!
Philippians 4:4-9 (Epistle)
- Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
- Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
- and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
- Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.
- The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
John 12:1-18 (Gospel)
- Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.
- There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.
- Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
- But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said,
- Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?
- This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
- But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.
- For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”
- Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.
- But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,
- because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
- The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
- took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!”
- Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written:
- “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
- His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
- Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness.
- For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.