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April 12, 2023

Fifth Homily for Palm Sunday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1957)

Jerusalem was overflowing with people who had come from all over for the great feast of the Passover. Thousands of mouths passed the news of an amazing, never before heard miracle performed by the Lord Jesus Christ in nearby Bethany. By a single word of His, Lazarus, entwined in funeral shrouds, resurrected and came out of the tomb cave, who died four days prior and, of course, had already begun to decompose.

All Jerusalem was in a joyful movement. Everywhere there were groups of people discussing how to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. They came up with a meeting simple, but full of love and the deepest respect for the Wonderworker, unprecedented in the world, and much better than the famous Roman triumph, which met the leaders and conquerors of the peoples, a triumph full of loud glory.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, having resurrected the four-day-dead Lazarus, conquered death itself, and for this victory, which required not human, but Divine powers, worthy praise could only be sung by countless angelic powers that made up a single loud choir.

And on earth, with their weak and sinful voices, the people who gathered in Jerusalem could bring to the Lord Jesus only a small gift of love and admiration, showing it by laying their clothes under the feet of a colt on which the great Wonderworker rode; waving palm branches and loud cries of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” (John 12:13).

But let's look at the Creator of these outpourings of love - the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no traces of joy on His lowly drooping brow, and tears, one after another, drip from His most pure and bright eyes.

Oh our Lord, Lord! What are you crying about? What are you mourning for? It is impossible for us, petty and sinful people, to understand this, and before Your omniscient gaze, the terrible path to Golgotha is already opening. Your ears already hear how this people, now singing "Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”, in a few days will cry out before Pontius Pilate: “Crucify, crucify Him!” (John 19:6).

Before Your Divine omniscience, the indescribable horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem after 37 years are revealed, and You think to Yourself: “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Lk. 19:42-44).

O ye brothers and sisters who hear my mournful speech, are not your eyes clouded with tears? Do you really not understand how insignificant human glory is, how senseless it is to seek and covet it?

How important it is for all of us, looking at Jesus weeping with the glory given to Him, to think about the fact that the hour of death is approaching for us too, and how we need to prepare for it by reviewing our whole life and tirelessly repenting of our many sins.

How important it is that the terrible voice of the trumpet of the Archangel make us not shudder in trembling and horror, but rise up and raise our heads when the great Judge of the world, now humbly riding on a donkey to Jerusalem, comes in great and terrible glory with countless heavenly host to judge the whole world. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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