“Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’ The King of Israel.” (John 12’ 13)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
Our spiritual journey of Holy and Great Lent gradually and with the help and mercy of Holy God has led us to Palm Sunday. This day is like a bridge, which connects Holy and Great Lent with the Holy and Great Holy Week. Today’s Gospel read in Church presents the Lord six days prior to the Jewish Passover, in Bethany, the town of Holy and Righteous Lazarus, whom the Lord had recently resurrected from the dead.
THE SUPPER AT BETHANY
The family of Saint Lazarus, following the resurrection of their son and brother, the friend of the Lord, took the trouble to express their love, their respect, their gratitude and their bond with Jesus Christ. For this reason they organised a supper at Bethany in the house of Simon the Leper. The Gospel is not explicit as to whether this house belonged to the family of Lazarus or not. However, it is possible that as is the case in our days, when some houses are known under various names, the same occurred in the present situation. There is also an opinion that this house belonged to their father, who bore the name of Simon the Leper.
However, what is more important is that the supper took place after the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus himself participated at the supper and what is significant, he sat among the guests. At that time there was a custom by the Jews to welcome their guests by washing their feet. This task, of course, was performed by the servants. However, in this case the task was taken by Mary, the sister of Lazarus. She took a pot full of very expensive perfume from India. Mary anointed the Lord’s feet with this perfume. Then she untied her hair and used it to wipe His feet. The house was filled with the strong smell of the perfume. The initiative of Mary, apart from expressing all the feelings of which we already mentioned prefigured the washing of the body of the Lord with perfume prior to His burial, as it was the custom of the land.
The action of Mary scandalised Judas. Judas was one of the twelve Apostles and had as his task the guarding of the money purse of the apostolic group. Unfortunately, he himself was stealing secretly from this money and for this reason he was scandalised, since he wanted this amount under his authority. Judas did not love the poor in reality but he used this excuse to justify his proposition. The Lord intervened and told him not to disturb Mary since her action referred to His burial. Mary had as a motive love and a spirit of sacrifice. Judas was preoccupied by his love of money. Many people knew about the presence of the Lord in Bethany and turned up on purpose to see Him. Additionally, they learned about the resurrection of Lazarus who had been dead in the tomb for four days and wished to see Lazarus themselves.
The Archpriests of the Jews, after the resurrection of Lazarus realised that many of their people left them and followed Christ. For this reason they planned not only the killing of Jesus but Lazarus also so as to destroy every sign of the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus.
THE TRIUMPHANT ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
The day after the supper the multitude of people who came to Jerusalem for the feast of the Jewish Passover as soon as they learned of the coming of the Lord went into the streets holding branches of palm trees to welcome Him and they shouted: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’ The King of Israel.” The people received the Lord as if He were a Colonel and was returning victorious from the war. Their words belonged to the Messianic psalm. (Palm 118 26a).
The Lord entered the city sitting on the back of a donkey. Prophet Zacharias in his book speaks as follows: “Fear not, daughter of Zion, Behold, your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt.” (John 12’ 15) The colt which was used by the Lord for His entry into Jerusalem accepted a load on his back for the first time. This colt was lent to the Lord. The Lord owned nothing. This animal on the one hand symbolised the humility of the Lord, Who did not use a horse and on the other hand an untamed and obstinate animal symbolised the entry of the gentiles into the Church fold.
The disciples in the beginning did not comprehend all the things they saw and heard. However, when Jesus entered His glory then they remembered that all these which are found in the Bible were referring to His Person and have implemented them on Him. All those who were present at the resurrection from the dead of Lazarus who was in the tomb for four days, submitted their witness. Thus, the people hastened to meet Him since they have heard of this extraordinary miracle.
The people attended the triumphant entry of the Lord into Jerusalem considering Him as a circular redeemer. However, He Himself walks towards the Passion, the Crucifixion, the Burial and the Resurrection. We, the New Israel, the members of the Church, are invited to follow the entry of the Lord into Jerusalem and walk mentally with Him, not as those people but having the good feelings of the innocent children, who were free from internal wickedness. The Church prepared us during the Holy and Great Lent so as to celebrate the Holy Pascha, the Pascha of the Lord. Amen!
C O M M U N I T Y N E W S
MEALS FOR THE ELDERLY: The meals for the elderly during the months of March were subsidised by the following: Melitsa Stavrou in memory of her beloved husband Yiannakis and Elli Ktori in memory of her beloved daughter Irene; Eleni Argyrou in memory of her beloved husband Charalambos; Efthymia Constantinou; Maria Fafalios-Dragonas and the LadiePANTANASSA. We thank all the kind donors for their generosity and consideration towards this cause. The meals have now ceased for the Easter celebrations and they will commence again on Thursday, 30th April 2009.
RENEWAL OF SUBSCRIPTIONS: The subscriptions for the Community (£50.00), Pantanassa (£25.00) and the Archdiocese Magazine are now due. If you have not already paid your subscriptions or wish to subscribe to any of all of these you may contact our Community’s offices.
SCHOOL RAFFLE: We are pleased to inform you that the sale of the school raffle has now reached the amount of £4,500.00. We take this opportunity to thank all our supporters for their generosity and trust that they will continue contributing towards this worthy cause.
YOUR GIFT FOR THE FLOWERS: Please contribute generously towards the purchasing of flowers needed by our two Churches during Holy Week, especially for the Epitaphions.
PARKING IN THE AREA: May we ask you please to pay special attention when and where you park your cars when you come to Church these Holy days. You may make use of our two existing car parks as well as the car park of the town hall on Sundays and public holidays. Please avoid creating traffic congestion or any other trouble with our neighbours.
HOLY COMMUNION: Bearing in mind all the problems you face regarding parking as well as the narrow margin of time of the working people, our two Churches will be open very early in the morning on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday. In this way we hope to facilitate those of you who are in need of receiving Holy Communion before the Service begins. Those of you who are able to attend the Services and receive Holy Communion on other days do so.
NEWS FROM OUR SCHOOL: The Schools of St Barnabas will break up their lessons only for one week. On Thursday, the 23rd April as well as on Saturday, the 25th April 2009 the classes will operate normally.
TIME-TABLE FOR HOLY WEEK: We advise you to collect your copy of the programme for the services during Holy Week and Easter when you visit our two Churches.