The Prelate’s Sermon, Sunday, April 10
Having completed the six stations of our inward journey during the Great Lent, today we celebrate the unprecedented and most unusual victorious entry of a spiritual Leader into Jerusalem, who was surrounded by people with whom He spent the three years of ministry, showering upon them the bounties of our Heavenly Father. Free from all kinds of secular official escorts (like today’s motorcades, intelligence services, etc.) who keep the people far from their leader, Jesus was walking with the people, riding the humblest of all animals, a donkey. There were no flags, posters or trumpets, but rather by the spontaneous gesture of youth, garments were spread on the path instead of red carpets, olive and palm branches replaced the flags, and Hosannas shouted out like trumpets were shaking Jerusalem, the city of peace, and its authorities and residents, while welcoming the Prince of Peace. It was a pity that those who were chosen to welcome the One who chose them were terrified by His presence. That is why the Evangelist recorded, “He came to His own and His own did not receive Him” (Jn 1:11).
On this uplifting feast I would like to share the following thoughts as the source of our strength, and joy in our life.
- Jesus Christ on different occasions identified Himself as the Essential of all essentials, by saying, I AM the Living Bread (Jn 6:51) and Living Water (Jn 7:37), I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life (Jn 14:6); I AM the light of the World (Jn 8:12), likewise He said, “My peace I give to you” (Jn 14:27).These references collectively bring us the greatest message that as much as the above-mentioned materials and abstract ideas are essential for sustaining our temporary survival, likewise their Source undeniably is imperative for our earthly as well as eternal existence. Peace is the cardinal factor of harmonious cooperation of all elements which blossom into prosperity, comfort and joy. Jesus being the Supreme Peace, tranquilized the storms, pacified people from the threat of demons, promised peace to all those who believe in Him, and gave them the authority to be the children of God (Jn 1:12).
History is a continuous testimony between those who have received and those who have denied the True Peace. Those who have received Him humbly have always been co-workers of the Creator, while those who have denied Him have always challenged His supreme love and authority.
- One of frequently asked questions is when will peace finally prevail? Throughout the centuries, invasions, wars, bloodshed, and persecution have been the more prevalent and aggressive reality rather than peaceful times. It is true that they are continuous tragedies; nevertheless, an objective approach is very helpful. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as omniscient God knowing the entire course of the Creation, did not deny but even predicted all kind of tribulations (Mt 24:4-31). The Apostles foretold that the Evil power is constantly seeking to demolish the World (cf. Eph 6:12), the tangible manifestation of God’s love. Hence, as a true and honest Leader, Jesus did not promise to free us from wars, but rather to shield us and galvanize us with His Peace, in order to walk through the path of Cross and be worthy of the glorious Resurrection.The Peace granted to us calms our mind, heart and soul not to be frightened, but instead to challenge death itself, as Saint Paul says, “O Death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).
The Peace and Serenity of Jesus Christ offered to us boost our immunity each and every day to deal with our inner struggles as well as family, social, financial, health, and other problems without being crushed. This is the main reason that every Sunday when we attend the Soorp Badarak – Divine Liturgy, the celebrant in voice prays and says, “With your Peace Christ our God, which is beyond our understanding and wisdom, strengthen us and keep defended from all kinds of evil.” Also during the Badarak, the celebrant again turns and conveys the Peace of Christ to the Congregation, and the Congregation returns the same peace to his spirit in order to lead the flock in orthodox faith.
With this understanding let us humbly beseech the Lord, the Peace par excellence, to come and dwell in this earthly tabernacle of ours, with the Loving Father and Caring Holy Spirit, the One Godhead, to whom is befitting Glory and Dominion. Amen.