Welcome Home: A “Triumphant” Entry into the Ancient Christian Faith on the Feast of Palms

Fr. Gabriel Bilas | 21 April 2019

Today Jerusalem and Bethany rejoices!  The entire world rejoices as Christ makes his triumphant entry into the city and into our hearts!

This morning, with our palms and pussy willows held high, we stand in midst of Jerusalem, surrounded by the children who have gathered and are dancing in the streets!  We can see the indescribable joy on their faces!  The news has spread about the Messiah…and He has finally come to fulfill the prophecies that had been spoken about Him throughout the centuries!

We have been hearing in the Gospels of these past days, just as those in Jerusalem and Bethany had heard the rumors, about a Man who raised Lazarus from the dead.  We imagine the shock and awe of all the witnesses, who just four days earlier had attended his funeral gave him the last kiss…and pulled a rock over his tomb.  Now those same witnesses see the dead man eating dinner and carrying on normally, while hosting the God-Man at a dinner!

Of course, news of this miracle spread through the streets like wildfire, and thousands upon thousands went out to the streets on this day to get a glimpse of this Savior.  We stand mystically present in those streets today, as God Himself mounts a colt that has never been ridden, and is surrounded by the praises of the entire city who has come to meet Him.  They take their cloaks off of their backs to lay on the ground!   They are climbing the trees to get a glimpse of the King!  They are singing in the streets and acknowledging that the Messiah is here!  There are no more secrets to keep.  No more quiet teachings!  No more parables trying to figure out how salvation will come about…all of that is now over!  We no longer will hear from our Lord the words: “my hour has not yet come…”…because today, His hour HAS come.  And it is this reason, my dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, that even if we were not excited and didn’t fully comprehend this feast day, our Lord said that the rocks would cry out in jubilation for us!

So intense is the joy at the presence of the king, that even the inanimate creation will sprout mouths to praise Him!  This is the happiness that is piercing our hearts this morning!  This is the type of Joy that animates the children…because they all instinctively feel that God is with them.

We saw something very similar to this scene about 1000 years earlier in those same streets of Jerusalem, when the Ark of the Covenant first made it’s entry into the Holy City.  Everyone was singing and dancing as the presence of God came into the city.  King David…this mighty king who was larger than life…took off his clothes, and danced and leaped at the presence of God!  This is the same spirit that animated the children…and it should animate us, because the king is near brothers and sisters…He is in our midst!  What a day!

As if the Joy of Palm Sunday was not enough, we have even more of a reason to rejoice, as we witness transformation of two wonderful warriors for Christ as they enter Holy Orthodoxy today.  After a long journey, Peter and Veronica embark on a new and wonderful life as Orthodox Christians which begins now…and carries both of them through eternity.

As they both well know, the path that has been placed before them today is not an easy one to bear.  There will be difficulties…there will be temptations…there will be moments when they will doubt their faith…there will be losses…and there will be sorrows on their journeys towards Christ in His Church.   But the promise that is made to them today, is that the eternal joy that they have been called to experience in this new life, will far outweigh any of the sorrows that the devil places at their feet in the fallen world.

They have been blessed to enter into Christ’s One Holy Church on this feast of Palms…on this feast of Joy…emulating our Lord as they make their triumphant entry into the fullness of the Christian Faith. And in just a few minutes, for the very first time, they will be able to experience a level of jubilation that not even King David or those children were able to experience.  Yes, our Lord was near them that day, but for us living 2 thousand years later…we have been given something that allows us to be united to God in ways that the world cannot even begin to fathom.  In a few minutes…they will lead all of us, as we partake of the very Body and Blood of God Himself.  The deacon will come out with the chalice and proclaim to the world:  “With the fear of God, with faith and love draw near…”

We will respond with those exact same words of jubilation that we heard from the children in the streets today:  “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord”

(To the newly illumined) In the midst of the joyous chaos that is happening today…when you partake of the sacraments for the very first time, try to remember the grace and joy of this day…so that you can carry it with you throughout all of the days of your lives.  We love you…our Prayers are with you…and welcome home!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, just like Peter and Veronica on this day…the greatest week of our Christian Lives starts today!  Our journey and submission towards Love starts now! Let us all now honor Him who came to show light to a darkened world.  Let us praise Him who healed the sick, who received the love offering of Mary, and who endured the betrayal of Judas, all because He is the Lord of Love…and came to serve His people!

May we now journey with Him now as He transforms death and allows all of those who seek a life of Christ to taste the fountain of immortality and everlasting life.

Hosanna, Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Amen!

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