The Triumphant Entry – Palm (Willow) Sunday
St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians 4:4-9
BRETHREN, rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
- What is “forbearance”? Why is it something we should let people see? How do we get it?
- Stress is a huge problem in today’s society. Is St. Paul’s command to “have no anxiety” realistic? How does prayer help with anxiety? Faith?
- St. Paul suggests that peace is more than a psychological state; that there is grace involved. How can we have access to this grace?
- What kinds of things does St. Paul tell us to think about? Is that what we usually think about? What would happen if we listened to Paul?
Gospel: John 12:1-18
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!” Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.” His disciples did not understand these things at first but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign.
- Why did so many people come to Mary and Martha’s house?
- Why did people greet Christ as he went into Jerusalem?
- What is the part of the Divine Liturgy when we remember this procession?
- The Passover is a remembrance of the Exodus. Deuteronomy 18:15 says; “
- There is a telling passage in Deuteronomy 18 where Moses tells us, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers – it is to him you shall listen” How is Jesus like Moses? What kind of deliverance did people expect?
On Worship and Caring for the Poor
ST CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA: And the Savior also brings forward an argument that convinces us that nothing is better than devotion toward him. For, he says, love for the poor is very praiseworthy, only let it be put after veneration of God. And what he says amounts to this: The time, he says, that has been appointed for my being honored, that is to say, the time of my sojourn on earth, does not require that the poor should be honored before me. And this he said with reference to the incarnation. He does not, however, in any way forbid the sympathetic person to exercise love toward the poor. Therefore, when there is need of service or of singing, these must be honored before love toward the poor. For it is possible to do good after the spiritual services are over. He says therefore that it is not necessary always without intermission to devote our time to honoring himself or to spend everything on the priestly service but to lay out the greatest part on the poor. Or think of it this way: As he asks his disciples to fast after he had ascended to the Father, so also he says that then they may more freely give attention to the care of the poor and exercise their love for the poor with less disturbance and more time, which indeed was the case. For after the ascension of the Savior, when they were no longer following their Master on his journeys but had leisure, then they eagerly spent all the offerings that were brought to them on the poor.
ORIGEN: So powerful is the praise of a good work of this kind that it exhorts all of us to fill the Lord’s head with fragrant and rich works so that it may be said also of us that we have done a good work on his head.
Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (pp. 47–48). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
On Envy of Christ’s Miracles
AMBROSE: In the presence of such grace given by the Lord, of such a miracle of divine bounty, when all ought to have rejoiced, the wicked were stirred up and gathered a council against Christ and wished moreover to kill Lazarus also. Do you not recognize that you are the successors of those whose hardness you inherit? For you too are angry and gather a council against the church, because you see the dead come to life again in the church and raised again by receiving forgiveness of their sins. And thus, so far as you are concerned, you desire to slay again through envy those who are raised to life.
Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 50). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
On Psalm 117
BEDE: The crowd took this verse of praise from the one hundredth and seventeenth psalm, and there is no one who doubts that it is sung about the Lord. Hence it is appropriate that there is previously sung of him in the same psalm, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” for Christ, whom the Jews rejected as they were building the decrees of their own traditions, became a memorial for believers from among both peoples, namely, the Jews and the Gentiles. For as to the fact that Christ is called the cornerstone in this psalm, this is what was being chanted in high praise in the Gospel by the voice of those who followed and those who went ahead.
Elowsky, J. C. (Ed.). (2007). John 11–21 (p. 53). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank thee that thou hast answered me and hast become my salvation.
The stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we beseech thee, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech thee, give us success! [i.e. Hosanna!] Blessed be he who enters in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.