Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord

These words shouted out on the first Palm Sunday to Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago by thousands of believers, just days before He would be arrested, convicted and put to death, reflects the trend of our fallen human nature. One moment we are praising God; the next moment we are ignoring Him.

When Jesus Christ took on human flesh for our salvation that meant we no longer were held captive by the devil and his shenanigans. With the announced coming of God into the world, as we just celebrated a few weeks ago with the Feast of Annunciation, He declared war on the devil and we were freed from death. It’s no surprise that the people cried such praises to God, but something changed in the people.

On that first Palm Sunday, those believing Jews were expecting Jesus Christ to rise up and finally put an end to the Roman occupation. They were expecting a military messiah but they received a spiritual savior who would save them from eternal death, by Himself dying and raising from the dead. Suddenly when they realized the reality of His impending death, they also realized they would be required to stand up for their faith in God and live a new life even risking being shunned or killed for their belief in Jesus. Many just could not show such faith.

In 2012 we run the same risk as those first believers my brothers and sisters. Many of us have been expecting a messiah who would make life easy if we believed in Him. He would take away all sickness if we believed in Him. He would bless us with nice homes and good jobs if we believed in Him. He would protect us from suffering if we believed in Him. Some refer to this as the Gospel of Prosperity. There is only one problem…..God never promised an easy ride.

We encounter the same need to stand up for our faith in God and live a life even risking being ridiculed and persecuted by those who either don’t believe in Him or by those who believe in the messiah that would make life easy. Just days after shouting out “Hosanna in the Highest!” many turned their backs on Jesus as He ascended the Cross. On Palm Sunday we will join our voices with those of the past and cry out, “Hosanna in the Highest!” Let us not turn our backs on Him.

This year, let’s take the opportunity of Great and Holy Pascha and rededicate our lives, individually and as a Parish Community, to keeping our eyes on Christ. Let’s not just “call” Him Lord, let’s actually treat Him as Lord as we will join our voice on April 15th with…

Christ is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη! Христос Воскресе! Hristos a înviat! Al-Masih-Qam! Cristo ha resucitado! ქრისტე აღსდგა! Truly He is Risen!

I look forward to seeing you in Church during Holy Week!

+ Father Athanasios

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