My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!
The Lord went to Jerusalem many times, but never had He come with such honour as that which we recall today, on Palm Sunday. Before this, when He was in Jerusalem, He would sometimes stay out of sight, because of the envy of the chief priests, and the Pharisees and the scribes. But now that the time of His Passion had arrived, a time which He Himself had appointed, He comes more openly, more splendidly, so that if the chief priests and the Pharisees and the scribes wished to behold and to discern His glory, they could learn from the prophecies that were openly, publicly being fulfilled in Him that He was true God and true man, that they could believe in Him and worship Him.
Many people, as the Gospel tells us today, when they heard that our Lord was coming into Jerusalem, went out to meet Him with homage. They no longer regarded Him simply as a prophet, but as someone far greater, greater than all others, which, indeed, He is. Search the Scriptures and you will see that none of the prophets had ever been received and honoured in such a way as the children of Israel received and honoured our Lord on that day.
They cried out: Hosanna! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! In saying Hosanna, they offered unto the Lord a hymn, which means, “Save us!” as if to say, O Lord God, save us; for to save is proper to God alone, and the Scriptures ascribe salvation to Him alone.
Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord! Truly in the name of the Lord did Christ come. The Lord has come in the name of the Father, as He himself said: I am come in My Father’s name. He came in the name of the Lord, being Himself Lord of all creation. Blessed is He that cometh, not he that is led, not he that is forced forward. For to be led about is the mark of one who is compelled, whereas to come is said of one acting according to one’s own determination and will. So once again we see that our Lord enters His Passion willingly.
The Lord sat upon a donkey’s colt in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zacharias. He is meek and humble, and displays nothing of pride. When our Lord made His entry He did not have troops with Him, He had no armour-bearers or coachmen. He entered with great meekness and humility, giving us an example, a definition and a rule, that we should not seek what is superﬂuous and beyond our needs, that we should have humility.
And consider for one moment, in the midst of all that is going on, consider the donkey and a meaning you may put in your heart. That the Lord chose to sit on the donkey’s colt was clearly a sign, since according to the Mosaic Law the donkey was an unclean animal. Here for us, the donkey can symbolize an unclean heart – our unclean hearts – upon whom the Word of God, our very Lord, by His condescension and love towards man, comes to sit, subduing the heart which was stubborn and disorderly. He then leads the heart to the true Jerusalem, having calmed it and made it His resting place. For the Lord leads up to heaven all those who believe, all who are His people and are receptive of Him.
And our hearts, stubborn as they might be, do not receive our Lord simply that they might stand there. For as the donkey carried our Lord into Jerusalem, to His glory, as our Lord directed it, so also must we carry our Lord in the way which He determines.
And the donkey, elevated by Him Whom he carried, saw the glory of the Lord. He saw the praise offered to God at the great entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem, greeted with hymns of salvation and branches of palm.
Palm branches used to be given to those who were victorious in combat. Here they signiﬁed that the Lord, having raised Lazarus, as we celebrated yesterday on Lazarus Saturday, is the conqueror of death.
The people who had seen the miracle of Lazarus were witnesses and reporters of our Lord’s power. Because of their testimony, our Lord was met with such acclaim by those who accepted His good reputation and believed in Him.
Let us, also, then, my friends, we who believe and exalt and glorify Christ as true God, let us go out to meet Him and to worship Him. Let us bring Him the branches of virtue, and let us spread before Him our garments and coverings of our souls. Let us subject them to the Spirit, casting off the old man. Those who are worthy to sing hymns to our Lord are those who lay themselves out before Him in submission, that the Lord may transcend them and sanctify them, so that the flesh may no longer rise up against the spirit.
Let us not take the broad way of the ﬂesh that leads to death; for liberty, carelessness, negligence, latitude, and brazenness in this life bring condemnation, anguish, and torment in the next. But bodily afflictions, mortifications, deprivation of desires, compunction, tears, confession of sins, and all difficulties endured for God’s sake in the present prepare us to receive the blessed enjoyment of the bliss to come.
Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.