April 12, 2023

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

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 18, 1954)

All Jerusalem stirred from the news of the greatest miracle of the resurrection of the four-day dead Lazarus by the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was necessary to meet with glory the Wonderworker, unprecedented in the world, who created such an unheard-of miracle.

The people, who were subject to the Romans, could not prepare a magnificent triumph, and the solemn entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem bore a completely different seal than the triumph of the Roman emperors and generals. This holy seal was predicted for hundreds of years by the prophet Zechariah, who said: ““Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zech. 9:9).

The people spread their clothes on the road before Jesus, waving palm branches, and exclaimed in delight: “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed be the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!"

The Lord Jesus Christ was greeted not as a king of earthly glory, but as a spiritual King. They shouted “Hosanna!” to Him, which means “save me.” In Him they saw the Savior and the leader to the highest glory.

It would seem that the heart of the Lord Jesus should have been filled with joy, but He, looking at Jerusalem from the descent of the mountain, wept, and abundant tears streamed down His cheeks. He, the Omniscient Son of God, knew that in five days the unfaithful Jewish people would shout before Pontius Pilate: “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”

Before His spiritual eyes unfolded a terrible picture of the most severe punishment to which His Heavenly Father would subject this hard-headed and unfaithful people for killing Him. He saw the indescribable horrors of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman generals Vespasian and Titus, and He said in tears: “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).

Has it ever been seen in the world that the king, whom the people solemnly greeted, shed tears? But Jesus was greeted precisely as a King.

The hearts of His enemies were filled with fear and malice, and they said to Jesus: “Do you hear what Your disciples are shouting? Forbid them." They did not understand that if the disciples were silent, then the stones would cry out, as Jesus told them.

They came to the Temple in Jerusalem, and here the weeping and meek heart of Jesus was suddenly filled with royal anger. How dare they desecrate His temple by selling animals and exchanging money?! With a whip, He drove the merchants out of the temple and overturned the tables of the money changers.

But then He was surrounded by a crowd of sufferers and sick people. And again His anger was replaced by meekness and mercy - and He healed everyone. This work of mercy ended His Entry into Jerusalem.

In reverence and sacred delight let us bow our heads before our Savior and our King. Let us never forget His words addressed to Jerusalem: "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace."

Let us not forget His sacred anger, which replaced His tears, and let us consider whether this is not a lesson for us, among whom there are also many hard-hearted ones.

Are there not enough days of God's visitation in our life, which we do not notice and do not realize that they serve for peace and our salvation?

Many and varied are the days when the Holy Spirit visits us. When it is necessary to stop us on our crooked paths, He stops us with a serious illness, shakes us with the death of loved ones, exposes us to dishonor or ruin of property, humbles our pride by public humiliation and insults. And He stops those who are closer to Him and worthy even with His quiet words in a dream and in reality.

Are these not the days of His visitation to us, serving for peace and our salvation?! And how often, instead of correcting our ways, we grumble at God for these visits! This is the first lesson for us.

And the second lesson taught by the Lord by the expulsion of the merchants is that even in deep sorrow and bitter tears, we must suddenly ignite with anger if we see or hear the desecration of the shrine.

Then, suddenly, our sadness should be replaced by sacred anger, and, not thinking about any danger, even the danger of our life, we must boldly and without fear stand up for the defense of the shrine.

But how often does this happen? Is it not much more often that low cowardice takes possession of us, and we do not dare to utter a word before impudent blasphemers and blasphemers?

May the great day of the Lord's Entry into Jerusalem remind us of His tears and sacred anger, may we never forget His bitter tears and words addressed not only to Jerusalem, but to each of us!

Let us make the goal of our life the following of Christ, for He Himself said: “Whoever serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also” (John 12:26).

Let us follow Christ, walking through the narrow gate along the narrow path, and let us rest where the eternal glory of the Holy Trinity shines. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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