Sunday, April 5, 2015

Met. Ephrem (Kyriakos) on Palm Sunday

Arabic original here.

Palm Sunday
The Entrance into Jerusalem
Suffering and Joyful Sorrow

On the first day of Holy Week, the Lord Jesus enters in splendor, riding on the colt of a donkey.

Raising Lazarus from the dead was only an image of the resurrection of Christ, just as His entrance into Jerusalem was only an image of His passion and resurrection.

Let us pose the main question on this feast: why is there this overwhelming joy on Palm Sunday when the Lord Jesus is entering Jerusalem in order to suffer?! There is a terrible contradiction, sorrow and joy, the pomp of the triumphant and crushing humility. "Behold your king comes to you, (O Jerusalem), riding on a donkey's colt" (cf. John 12:15 and Zacharia 9:9).

The children carry palm leaves and olive branches-- a sign of victory and peace-- and candles decorated with flowers-- a sign of light and joy. These are the virtues that we have acquired after fasting...

On the feast of Palm Sunday, we chant: "God the Lord has appeared to us, blessed is He who come in the name of the Lord. Save us, O Son of God, who rode upon a donkey's colt", "today the grace of the  Holy Spirit has gathered us."

On Palm Sunday, we declare Jesus to be our King, our Lord and our God.

* * *
We return to the first question  and recall what the Lord said to His disciples in his farewell sermon before going to the passion:

"Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy" (John 16:20). 

Here is the great mystery. Here is the secret action of divine grace at work in the heart of every Christian who is committed in his life in Christ: the mystery of our participation in Christ's suffering, death and resurrection. This is what the Orthodox Church calls "joyful sorrow" (χαρμολύπη).

In our church, we do not call the final week of the fast "sorrowful week", but rather we call it Great Week or Passion Week, in which pain and joy mix. 

On Palm Sunday, the Church celebrates Christ's entrance into suffering with great joy. The song of victory is itself the song of the suffering by which Christ enters into the Jerusalem on high and brings us with Him.

Beloved, let us become like those children who went to meet Christ, crying out "Hosanna! (That is, Save us!) Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Remember how the Jewish priests and scribes were surprised by all this and how the Lord replied to them:

"Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?" (Matthew 21:16)

Metropolitan of Tripoli, Koura and Their Dependencies

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