Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory forever!

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

What kind of a king makes his entrance as we remember here today?  What kind of a king makes a grand entrance on the foal of a donkey instead of on an impressive warhorse?  What kind of a king earns the shouts of “’Hosanna!’” by a swarming and overly enthusiastic populace, the likes of which has not been seen by us since the great liberation of European cities during WWII?  What kind of king?  The kind Who “tramples down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing Life!” (Paschal Troparion).  That’s Who!

Indeed, what kind of God comes sitting humbly upon the foal of an ass?  What kind of God comes in the flesh of His creature, man, with all its inherent weaknesses?  What kind of God comes in bread and wine and Who delights when His enemies repent?  What kind of God?  The kind Who voluntarily hands Himself over to the powers of sin, death, and the devil so that sinners may not perish but have Everlasting Life (Ek. 18:23; 33:11; Jn. 3:15-16; 1 Tm. 2:4; 2 Pe. 3:9)!  The kind Who throws open the barred gates of Paradise so that those long exiled may return once again and enjoy sweet communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  That’s Who!

Here, today, in the city of Jerusalem – ironically, the “city of peace,” as its name infers – the crowds greet the King of Peace Who comes humbly in love and mercy and compassion for the salvation of all souls, Jew and Gentile.  And yet, by the end of this week He will be crucified, fixed to the Cross and lifted up from the earth.  There He will ride the hard wood of the old Tree of Golgotha, His blood will be poured out as a libation offering upon the ground like that of Abel long before (Gn. 4:8, 10).  But His blood, the blood of Jesus the Christ, the blood of the Great High Priest, the blood of “’the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world’” (Jn. 1:29), will speak a better word than that of the blood of the murdered Abel that cried out for vengeance (Hb. 12:24).  “’Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,’” the Great High Priest will pray instead from His throne and Altar there on the Cross, interceding on behalf of the world, beseeching the Father’s great and rich mercy (Lk. 23:34).  For we know, just as we have prayed in our Presanctified Liturgies over the past weeks, that this God – our God – is “a merciful God Who loves mankind, and unto Him do we send up glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit” (Augmented Litany).  Indeed, “Who is so great a God as our God” Who comes to us unworthy sinners, lowly and riding on the foal of an ass (Ps. 76 [77]:13)?   

The multitudes that Sunday in Jerusalem thronged to see Israel’s own King.  Their voices announced His coming and they greeted Him accordingly.  They confessed this was no one ordinary, but the King of Israel – the Blessed One – “’that cometh in the Name of the Lord!’”  But, I wonder what or who did they go out to truly see that day?  Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ once asked some others that very same question in regard to John the Baptist.  “’What did you go out . . . to see?,’” Jesus asks.  “’A reed shaken by the wind?  But what did you go out to see?  A man clothed in soft garments? . . . But what did you go out to see?  A Prophet?  Yes, I say to you, and more than a Prophet’” (Mt. 11:7-19; Lk. 7:24-35). 

“’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord’” (Dt. 6:4).  What is all your running with branches to be strewn all about, O Israel?  Why do you make such a fuss over this solitary soul who comes riding to you on the back of a donkey?  Why do you cry out your hosannas as though you understood what it is you’re saying?  Is it salvation you truly seek, the hope of your hosannas you sing (which mean, “Lord, save!”), or is it something else?  Do you pine away for salvation from sin, death, and the devil or is there something else your hosannas envision?  Is it your King you truly pursue, or is it the bread He gave to you in the wilderness to the fullness of your bellies (Jn. 6:15, 26-27)?  Behold, the Man, the Son of God, O Israel!  Here is your King!  The King of all creation!  The King of all angels!  He comes to you strong and wise which you cannot discern.  He comes lowly.  He comes humbly.  He comes meekly.  If it were not for the children with palms and those shouting hosannas, there would be no fanfare, no triumphal entry.  He comes with great power and glory, but you will not see, you will not comprehend, until the day of His Crucifixion and Resurrection.  He comes as King of Peace, because He is peace itself, just as He is the Resurrection and the Life (Jn. 11:25).  He makes peace by the very blood of His Cross, reconciling all things in Heaven and on earth (Co. 1:20).  And He bids you, O Israel, to take up your cross – the trophy and weapon of peace – and to follow Him Whom your voices praise.

Beloved, the Church bids us in these most holy days we are about to enter into to meditate upon all that which is good and noble and beautiful and virtuous (Pp. 4:4-9).  Why?  So that we can become that which we meditate upon.  We call upon the cherubic hymn and the cries of those in Jerusalem as the King approaches our gates here in this Holy Eucharist: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Sabaoth: Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory.  Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest.”  And, I ask you, what or who is it you have come to see and to greet here upon the Altar this very day?  Tragic, indeed, are Isaiah’s words, “’The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel does not know Me,’” says the Lord God of Hosts, “’and the people has not regarded Me’” (Is. 1:3).  Do we know this God Who comes to us lowly and humble, meek and full of peace?  “’Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light’” (Mt. 11:28-30).        

And, again,

‘Let not your heart be troubled.  Ye believe in God; believe also in Me. . . . I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. . . . Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. . . . These things I have spoken unto you, that ye should not lose faith. . . . These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world’” (Jn. 14:1, 6, 27; 16:1, 33). 

St. Paul assures us, beloved, that if we put forth the effort to meditate upon all that is good and holy in these most revered days (imitating our Lord’s voluntary and saving Passion), “the God of peace will be with [us]” (Pp. 4:4-9).  For the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is most assuredly “the God of peace” (Hb. 13:20).  He speaks “peace to His people and to His saints” while we sinners are all too often for war (Ps. 84 [85]:8; 119 [120]:7; Lk. 2:14).

Now may the God of peace Who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the Everlasting Covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory forever and ever.  Amen (Hb. 13:20-21).

Though the prayers of our holy Fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ our God,

have mercy on us and save us.  Amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ!  Glory forever!

VIGIL PROPERS:                     PROPERS:

Gn. 49:1-2, 8-12                        Pp. 4:4-9

Zp. 3:14-19                                 Jn. 12:1-18      

Zc. 9:9-15