Palm Sunday

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
Let us receive the King of All
Palm Sunday
28 March, 2010
Philippians 4:4-9 ; John 12:1-18


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Today, we do literally have children with palms of victory here. It is pleasant to hear the children making noises because it is their own way of saying : “Hosanna ! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord”.

The Apostle John tells us that today, people are making a great demonstration as they welcome Christ, our Saviour, into the city of Jerusalem as King. They do this because they had seen the sign of the resurrection of Lazarus in Bethany. If they did not see it, they certainly heard about it because, as we saw and heard yesterday, Bethany is nearby to Jerusalem, only three km away, over the Mount of Olives. News travels fast (even without internet), especially when something like this occurs. It is not as though the raising of Lazarus were the first time that our Saviour had raised a person from the dead. There were many others, but most of these occurred in Galilee, which is, from the Jerusalem point of view, the same thing as being in Whitehorse, Yukon (from the Ottawa point of view). If these things are happening in the Yukon, then we usually will say : “Well, that is up there”. However, if it happens here, in the capital, then it definitely means something to us.

As they are receiving the Saviour today, the people understand that the things that He has been doing indicate that He is the Messiah. He is the Christ. He is fulfilling the prophecies about the One who would be sent, who would come and save the world. Therefore, they receive Him who is seated upon the colt of an ass (just as we have been singing). They receive Him, and we, too, receive Him as King. Now, in Jerusalem, things will take a different turn very quickly. We, ourselves, have to be watchful of our hearts, our minds, and our lives, so that we also do not allow things to take that sort of turn.

If we are accepting that Jesus Christ is Who He says that He is, and we honour Him truly as King, then we are honouring Him as King of the whole universe. It is He who loves everything into existence. It is He, the Word of God, who speaks everything into existence. If we are truly Orthodox believers, confessing that Jesus Christ is the King of the universe, and that He is my King in particular, then it is important for us to persevere, confessing Him in our daily lives, and not only on high occasions or on occasions when He does something very particular for us. It is important for us to be remembering to confess Him every day, in every part of every day. That is why in today’s Epistle, the Apostle is reminding us to focus our thoughts on those things which are beautiful and good, and especially on those things which are true.

I can never resist bringing up the fact that this particular passage (Philippians 4:4-9) is the source of the motto of the University of Alberta. However, the University of Alberta, my alma mater, has lost the sense of its origins, sad to say. It is important for us to remember that Jesus Christ only is the Truth, as He says : “‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’” (John 14:6). He is all three : Way, Truth, Life, and much more. The focus of our thoughts, and the movements of our hearts must be towards Him every day.

On this great feast, we are welcoming Him into Jerusalem together with the people 2,000 years ago. As we are doing this, let us ask the Lord to refresh our love for Him, so that our love will not get distracted and lost by extraneous things. Let us ask Him to keep our minds from being led astray by deceptions and substitutes. As the distraction and straying happened to people 2,000 years ago, so it happens to many people nowadays. Regardless of anything else, no matter what human beings do, we will remember that Jesus Christ, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), is constant in His love for you and for me. He never changes in His love for you and for me. Human beings come and go, human beings fall, but the Saviour is never-changing in His love for us.

Let us ask our Lord, in refreshing our love for Him, to enable us to maintain the confidence that He is always there for us, that He is always the same for us, and that His love is constant for us. He is always with us, to free us, to bring us to life, to bring us to joy, and to bring us to health. Health in heart brings health in body. In this loving confidence, in this loving relationship with the Saviour, let us, every day of our lives, glorify Him, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Trinity : the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.