(John 12: 1-18)
The triumphal entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem is celebrated today. A great number of people followed the Lord, all moving with great enthusiasm! First of all the children, who took branches of palm trees and cried out “Hosanna”!
As we follow Jesus moving towards Jerusalem, the Gospel reading highlights various categories of people. Depending on their behavior towards the Lord, we could classify them into three categories:
The first belongs to the enemies of Christ. The religious leaders of the Jews, who, out of jealousy and envy, came to the point of wanting to kill Jesus. Unfortunately one of the Twelve disciples, Judas, was among them and betrayed his Master for thirty pieces of silver.
In the second category are those who welcomed Jesus enthusiastically, but superficially. They were influenced by the general psychology of the mob, and possessed false ideas about who Jesus was. Because of all the amazing miracles they had witnessed, they thought that Jesus was coming as a powerful, secular king who would free them from Roman domination and give them a happy life. That is why, when, in a few days, they saw Him standing before Pilate, bound and humiliated, they became disillusioned. In this they thought, what need do we have for such a weak king? And they cried to Pilate: “Away with him, away with him! Crucify him” (John 19:15). So many of them were benefited by Christ’s miracles! But they all forgot this and fell away because of Christ’s crucifixion.
There is, however a third category of people: those who remained faithful to Christ until the end; the Apostles, Lazarus, who had been raised by Christ; Lazarus’ sister Martha, who willingly always kept with the Lord; the other sister of Lazarus, Mary, who, with deep gratitude at dinner, poured expensive myrrh on Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her hair, and there were others who remained faithful as well.
And now let each of us think: Which one of the above am I? As an Orthodox Christian, I pray to Christ and come to the Church regularly. Surely, I cannot belong to the First group who are Christ’s enemies and crucified Him, can I? But the Apostle Paul writes that, if a Christian allows his faith to die, and he remains unrepentant, then it is possible to “crucify again for themselves the Son of God”, as the rulers of the Jews (see Hebrews 6:6). Unfortunately, there are many who have reached this point.
What about the second group? Am I really interested in having the right view of Jesus Christ? Do I think that just because I am a baptized Orthodox Christian, that I will have a nice, comfortable life, free of any problems and distress? Why is it, that when a great sorrow or difficulty has come to me, I am disappointed and cut off my relationship with the Church? But Jesus Christ has warned us: Whoever follows Him will walk the difficult way (Matthew 7:14) and in this world will have tribulation (see John 16:33). So, if do not know the teaching of Christ, then it is possible for me to lose my faith and be discouraged.
How wonderful it is for us who belong to the third group. Those who to the end of their lives remained loyal and devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ! To resemble those whose love and trust in Christ was not diminished for any reason. The Apostle Paul writes, neither hurt nor “tribulation, or distress or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword” (Romans 8:35).
My brothers and sisters, tonight in the devout Holy Service in the center of the Church, we will face the image of the Lord as the Bridegroom of the Church and our souls. He is wearing the crown of and begins His martyrdom to Calvary. Do not let our Savior who dies for us be alone. From tonight, let us come every day, this Holy Week, to accompany Him, as our Church urges us with the hymn we will singing tonight: Come therefore, and let us accompany Him, with purified minds, and let us be crucified with Him, and for His sake mortify the pleasures of this life, that we may also live with Him…in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Idiomela Hymn after Exapostilarion). Amen.