25 Mar 2018

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel

From a sermon by Saint Andrew of Crete, bishop
from the Office of Readings - Palm Sunday

Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.

Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.

In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself. And even though we are told that he has now ascended above the highest heavens—the proof, surely, of his power and godhead—his love for man will never rest until he has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with his own in heaven.

So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.

Original TextTranslation
Lauda Jerusalem Dominum,
Lauda Deum tuum Sion,
Quoniam confortavit seras
portarum tuarum.
Benedixit filiis tuis in te
Qui posuit fines tuos pacem,
Et adipe frumenti satiat te;
Qui emittit eloquium
suum terrae,
Velociter currit sermo eius;
Qui dat nivem sicut lanam,
Nebulam sicut cinerem spargit,
Mittit cristallum suam sicut buccellas,
Ante faciem frigoris eius quis sustinebit;
Emittet verbum suum et liquefaciet ea,
Flabit spiritus eius et fluent aquae.
Qui annuntiat verbum suum Jacob,
Iustitias et iudicia Israel.
Non fecit taliter
omni nationi
Et iudicia sua non manifestavit eis.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto
Sicut erat in principio
Et nunc et semper
Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
for he has strengthened the bars of
your gates.
He has blessed your children within you.
He secures peace in your borders
and fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends forth his commandment
upon earth:
his word runs swiftly.
He bestows snow like wool,
he spreads hoar-frost like ashes,
he dispatches his ice like morsels:
when he produces cold, who can endure?
He sends forth his word and melts them;
he causes his wind to blow and water flows.
He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and judgments to Israel.
He has not done the same
for any other nations,
nor made known his judgments to them.
Glory to the Father and Son and Holy Ghost
as it was in the beginning,
is now and always,
and for ages of ages. Amen.

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