April 28, 2024

Homily on the Entry of our Lord Into Jerusalem: About Meeting the Lord (Archimandrite Kirill Pavlov)

Homily on the Entry of our Lord Into Jerusalem

About Meeting the Lord

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1964)
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Today, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, the Holy Church, and with her we, festively commemorates the solemn greeting of our Lord Jesus Christ at His entry into Jerusalem, arranged for Him by the best part of the people of Israel. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of the prophecy about Him as a meek and righteous King, after the miraculous resurrection of Lazarus, six days before His death, reveals Himself to the Jews, resolutely making them understand that He is truly the Messiah and King for whom they are waiting.

He enters the capital of the Kingdom of Israel, the holy city of Jerusalem, sitting on a young donkey, accompanied by many people. Everything came together to make this meeting the most solemn: crowds of people followed Jesus Christ from Bethany to Jerusalem; at the same time, some spread their clothes on the road, others cut green palm branches and threw them along the path of the Savior’s procession or shook them in the air. The picture seemed very solemn and touching: it was one of the best and most joyful events in the earthly life of the Savior. Those who accompanied and met Jesus Christ greeted Him with enthusiastic shouts, exclaiming: "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9; Luke 19:38).
Thus solemnly and joyfully did the people of Israel greet the Messiah they had been waiting for so long. And the people of Israel had something to rejoice about when they met their King. This was not an ordinary earthly king who conquers nations by force of arms. But this was the King about whom the holy prophet Zechariah prophesied in ancient times, saying: "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" (Zechariah 9:9).

The righteous King entered Jerusalem, not only righteous in Himself, but also carrying with Him eternal truth for all mankind, bringing justification for them from the sin tormenting them. A meek King was entering, not only personally meek, but also coming to teach people meekness, to establish a kingdom of peace for humanity and to attract people to Himself with humility and love. The saving King entered Jerusalem - the Savior of the world, coming to redeem people from grave punishments for sins, to free them from the evil reigning in the world.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, it is understandable why the meeting that the people of Israel gave the Lord upon His entry into Jerusalem was so joyful. This great joy of the people of Israel will be even more understandable to us if we remember the conditions in which the Jews were then.

Even before the Birth of Jesus Christ, the people of Israel were enslaved by the Romans, who handed them over to the cruel and unjust Herod. The Roman governors were similar to Herod in their cruelty. The moral and religious state of the people was extremely deplorable. The religious leaders of the Jews were distinguished by depravity, unbelief, greed and other base qualities.

Therefore, it was natural for the Jews to expect a Savior-King, who would deliver them from troubles and destroy lawlessness among them. And when this King appeared among them, it is not surprising that the people received Him with such great joy and jubilation.

We solemnly celebrate this joyful meeting of our Lord Jesus Christ every year, but this event should not have only historical significance for us. It must remain an essential event for us, having direct significance for our soul and for our salvation. The Savior of the world is the King not only of the people of Israel, but of all people, and He came not only to the Jewish people, but also to all the peoples of the world. Meek and righteous, He constantly comes to each of us, constantly knocks on the doors of our hearts, and we should always meet our Lord with great joy. Therefore, in the apostolic reading heard today, the holy Apostle Paul tells us: "Rejoice always in the Lord, and again I say: rejoice" (Phil.4:4).

And this joy of ours in the Lord should be more conscious and complete than the joy of the people of Israel, because the people of Israel did not all well understand the meaning of the Savior’s entry into Jerusalem, and you and I already know why Christ came down from Heaven to earth and what He did for us.

But how to express our joy at meeting the Lord - we must learn this from the people of Israel. The Jews, meeting the Lord, spread their clothes to Him. To understand the mysterious meaning of this symbolic action, we must remember that in ancient times clothing signified one or another mental state of a person and expressed his spirit. Therefore, if someone took off his clothes and spread them in front of some person, then in this way he showed that he was placing his most sublime feelings - love, respect and reverence - before this person.

So the Jews expressed their readiness to deny themselves and devote their souls and bodies to the King of Israel, whom they met. This is exactly what we should do when we meet the Lord. We will show our love for Him and joy about His Coming when we throw off our sinful spiritual clothes, polluted by vices, and put on clothes of purity, innocence and truth; when we renounce our evil will, and put on the new man, and surrender ourselves completely to the will of Christ the Savior; when we bear our cross without complaint and humility, enduring all sorrows with love and selflessness. This meeting of Christ will be the best and most pleasant for the Lord.

When the people of Israel met the Savior, they cut off palm branches and laid them on His path. To understand the inner meaning of this action, you need to know that in the Holy Scriptures, a tree very often means a person. So, for example, under a good tree there is a good person, under a dry tree there is a bad person who does not bear fruit or good deeds.

The palm tree, distinguished by its strength and beauty, signified human moral beauty. Therefore, when the people of Israel cut palm branches and laid them under the feet of the Savior, they expressed their good spirit and readiness to follow their King. Therefore, when we meet the Lord, we must demonstrate in ourselves the good qualities of the palm tree; our good moral activity must be based on the firm convictions of faith, so that our good life never withers or succumbs to corruption and decay, but is always fresh and blooming.

Finally, when they met the Savior, the people of Israel praised and glorified Him, exclaiming: "Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Matthew 21:9). With this, the people of Israel wanted to express their joyful feeling before the Lord. Likewise, we must glorify the Lord: both with our lips - verbally, and silently - and with our very life, so that our Savior Jesus Christ is glorified in everything. Just as heaven, which, although it does not have lips, makes others glorify the Creator with its beauty, so everyone should glorify the Lord with their good behavior and life. We must glorify the Lord with our lips in all spiritual singing and prayer - for His wonderful deeds and His inexpressible love and mercy for us.

If in this way we serve the Lord with all our hearts and meet Him with joy and devotion to Him, then He will fill our hearts with spiritual joy even in this earthly life, and what is even more important, will exchange this temporary joy for eternal joy in the Future Life, which will have no end. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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