Sunday: Faith, Victory and Joy
By: Elias Bejjani*
Those who do not witness for the truth because of selfishness and earthly calculations, as well as those who are cowardice, fearful, resort to compromise and cajoling, and bend for the same reasons, all those are actually detached from Jesus and from the sense and core of genuine Christianity. Jesus never ever compromised on any righteous principle. He loudly, openly and straightforwardly preached His Godly message to every one who was ready to hear, including all those in key authority position; the Pharisees, the scribers, the tax collectors, the rulers etc. He rebuked them stridently and pinpointed their flagrant infringements on God's law. His fascinated response to the Pharisees who asked Him to muffle His disciples while entering Jerusalem is an everlasting map road and a solid pillar for courage, freedom of expression and witnessing for what is righteous and Godly.
The Pharisees were disturbed, envious, worried and angry because of the way
the people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus, and from the kind of chants they were
uttering joyfully with the top of their voices. He did not succumb to their request and recognized the right of the
people in saying what they believe must be said. "Then some of the
Pharisees in the crowd spoke to Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “command your
disciples to be quiet!” Jesus answered, “I tell you that if they keep quiet, the
stones themselves will start shouting.” (Luke 19/39-40)
The on going war between righteous and evilness has never changed since the days of Adam and Eve. This fierce fight takes many forms and many styles, but simply it is a deadly struggle between the divine and earthly nature of the man. According to Saint Paul, for any individual to become a partaker of the divine and not of the earthly nature he is ought to acquire; "all diligence in faith, to supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control patience; and in patience godliness; and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. For if these things are owned and abound, they make the individual to be not idle nor unfruitful to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. Therefore, every faithful person needs to be more diligent to make his calling and election sure. For if he do these things, he will never stumble. For thus he will be richly supplied with the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
On the seventh Lantern Sunday, known as the "Palm Sunday", our Maronite Catholic Church celebrates the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The joyful and faithful people of this Holy City and their children welcomed Jesus with innocent spontaneity and declared Him a King. Through His glorious and modest entry the essence of His Godly royalty that we share with Him in baptism and anointing of Chrism was revealed. Jesus' Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem, the "Palm Sunday", marks the Seventh Lantern Sunday, the last one before Easter Day, (The Resurrection).
During the past six Lantern weeks, believers renewed
and rekindled their faith and reverence through genuine fasting, contemplation,
penance, prayers, repentance and acts of charity. By now all believers are expected to have
fully understood the core of love, freedom, and justice that enables them to enter
into a renewed world of worship that encompasses the family, the congregation,
the community and the nation.
Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time to participate in the Jewish Passover Holiday. He was fully aware that the day of His suffering and death was approaching and unlike all times, He did not stop the people from declaring Him a king and accepted to enter the city while they were happily chanting : "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”.(John 12/13). Jesus entered Jerusalem to willingly sacrifice Himself, die on the cross, redeem us and absolve our original sin.
On the Palm Sunday we take our children and grandchildren to celebrate the mass and the special procession while happily they are carrying candles decorated with lilies and roses. Men and women hold palm fronds with olive branches, and actively participate in the Palm Procession with modesty, love and joy crying out loudly: "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21/09).
On the Palm Sunday through the procession, prayers, and mass we renew our confidence and trust in Jesus. We beg Him for peace and commit ourselves to always tame all kinds of evil hostilities, forgive others and act as peace and love advocates and defend man's dignity and his basic human rights. "For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us" (Ephesians 02:14).
The Triumphal Entry of Jesus' story into Jerusalem appears in all four Gospel accounts (Matthew 21/01-17), (Mark 11/01-11), (Luke 19/29-40), (John 12/12-19). The four accounts shows clearly that the Triumphal Entry was a significant event, not only to the people of Jesus’ day, but to Christians throughout history.
The Triumphal Entry as it appeared in Saint John's Gospel, (12/12-19), as follows : "On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written, “Don’t be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt. ”His disciples didn’t understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him, and that they had done these things to Him. The multitude therefore that was with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, was testifying about it. For this cause also the multitude went and met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “See how you accomplish nothing. Behold, the world has gone after him.” Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast. These, therefore, came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn, Andrew came with Philip, and they told Jesus."
The multitude welcomed Jesus, His disciples and followers while chanting: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”.(John 12/13). His entry was so humble, meek simple and spontaneous. He did not ride in a chariot pulled by horses as earthly kings and conquerors do, He did not have armed guards, nor officials escorting him. He did not come to Jerusalem to fight, rule, judge or settle scores with any one, but to offer Himself a sacrifice for our salvation.
Before entering Jerusalem, He stopped in the city of Bethany, where Lazarus (whom he raised from the tomb) with his two sisters Mary and Martha lived. In Hebrew Bethany means "The House of the Poor". His stop in Bethany before reaching Jerusalem was a sign of both His acceptance of poverty and His readiness to offer Himself as a sacrifice. He is the One who accepted poverty for our own benefit and came to live in poverty with the poor and escort them to heaven, the Kingdom of His Father.
After His short Stop in Bethany, Jesus entered Jerusalem to fulfill all the prophecies, purposes and the work of the Lord since the dawn of history. All the scripture accounts were fulfilled and completed with his suffering, torture, crucifixion, death and resurrection. On the Cross, He cried with a loud voice: “It is finished.” He bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.(John19/30)
The multitude welcomed Jesus when He entered Jerusalem so one of the Old
Testament prophecies would be fulfilled. (Zechariah 09/09-10): "Rejoice greatly,
Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your King comes to you, righteous
and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I
will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and
the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule
will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth".
The crowd welcomed Jesus for different reasons and numerous expectations. There were those who came to listen to His message and believed in Him, while others sought a miraculous cure for their ailments and they got what they came for, but many others envisaged in Him a mortal King that could liberate their country, Israel, and free them from the yoke of the Roman occupation. Those were disappointed when Jesus told them: "My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom" (John 18/36)
Christ came to Jerusalem to die on its soil and fulfill the scriptures. It was His choice where to die in Jerusalem as He has said previously: "should not be a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem" (Luke 13/33): "Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem".
He has also warned Jerusalem because in it all the prophets were killed: (Luke 13:34-35): "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! "behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord".
Explanation of the Palm Sunday Procession Symbols
The crowd chanted, "Hosanna to the Son of David" "Blessed is he who comes in
the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21/09), because Jesus
was is a descendant of David. Hosanna in the highest is originated in the Psalm
118/25: "Please, LORD, please save us. Please, LORD, please give us success". It
is a call for help and salvation as also meant by the Psalm 26/11: "But I lead a
blameless life; redeem me and be merciful to me". Hosanna also means: God
enlightened us and will never abandon us, Jesus' is a salvation for the world"
Spreading cloth and trees' branches in front of Jesus to walk on them was an Old Testament tradition that refers to love, obedience, submission, triumph and loyalty. (2 Kings 09/13): "They hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, "Jehu is king!". In the old days Spreading garments before a dignitary was a symbol of submission.
Zion is a hill in Jerusalem, and the "Daughter of Zion" is Jerusalem. The term is synonymous with "paradise" and the sky in its religious dimensions.
Carrying palm and olive branches and waving with them expresses joy, peace, longing for eternity and triumph. Palm branches are a sign of victory and praise, while Olive branches are a token of joy, peace and durability. The Lord was coming to Jerusalem to conquer death by death and secure eternity for the faithful. It is worth mentioning that the olive tree is a symbol for peace and its oil a means of holiness immortality with which Kings, Saints, children and the sick were anointed.
The name "King of Israel," symbolizes the kingship of the Jews who were waiting for Jehovah to liberate them from the Roman occupation.
O, Lord Jesus, strengthen our faith to feel closer to You and to Your mercy
when in trouble;
O, Lord Jesus, empower us with the grace of patience and meekness to endure persecution, humiliation and rejection and always be Your followers.
O, Lord Let Your eternal peace and gracious love prevail all over the world.
(Psalm118/26): "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of Yahweh! We have
blessed You out of the house of Yahweh".
A joyous Palm Sunday to all those carry its ritual with their children and grandchildren
To Read the Arabic Version of the editorial Click Here
Audio/To hear an explanation for the editorial in Lebanese
dialogue/Windows Media Player file) Click Here
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
Web sites http://www.10452lccc.com & http://www.clhrf.com
Mailing phoenicia group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Phoenicia/.
Face Book https://www.facebook.com/elias.y.bejjani