Fasting and Hangry

Many families are familiar with being “hangry” during Great Lent.

Hangry is a word that combines being hungry with being angry according to Psychologist Brad Bushman of the Ohio State University.

Church fathers and monks speak about the ways fasting brings out our demons.  We start the fast with love and joy and soon find ourselves angry with the people around us.

Recent research (“Low Glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples“) has shown there is a biological basis to this experience.  Our bodies react to low blood sugar by making us more irritable and angry.  So while fasting may cause us to confront the demons of anger and irascibility, it also is setting off a physical experience in us that is related to these passions.

Ironically, according to NPR, the study relied on the use of voodoo dolls to help measure the rise of hostility and anger in the couples.  Maybe it was the voodoo dolls themselves which increased the anger!  They’ll have to study that one.  Who ever said that science does not rely on voodoo to attain its results?

For us, the study validates what many Orthodox families experience during fasting periods.

 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:19-23)

St. Paul got it right: anger, enmity, strife, and dissension, as has now been scientifically proven really are works of the flesh.  We are a unified being in body, soul, mind and spirit.  What affects our body affects our soul and mind.  Passions are related to the body and to the soul.

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Christ Has Entrusted You With His Gospel

Several of the hymns from the services for Great and Holy Tuesday call to mind Christ’s parable of the Master who before going on a journey entrusts to his servants some of his money.  When the master returns from his journey he demands an accounting from his servants as to what they did with the differing great sums of money he had entrusted to each of them.  Here is the parable that Jesus tells according to St. Matthew (25:14-30) :

“”For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’”

That the hymns mention this particular parable of Christ makes me think that at some point in the past, the Gospel was read as part of Holy Week, though it no longer is.  The theme is one of judgement and giving account.  So as we come to the end of Lent we are reminded that we will have to give account of what we did with the time and the spiritual gifts Christ bestowed on us through the weeks of Lent.

You have heard the condemnation, my soul of the man who his his talent.  Do not hide the Word of God.  Proclaim His wonders,  that increasing the gift of grace, you may enter into the joy of the Lord.

The hymn above again reminds us that these weeks of lenten abstinence are connected to a bigger picture of what it means to be a Christian.  Fasting was not the goal of Lent, but a tool to help us focus on what is important to our our life as Christ’s disciples.  The hymn says we each are like those in the Gospel Lesson who have been personally given a precious gift from God.  In the above hymn the priceless gift is the Word of God.  What have we done with the Word of God in our lives for these weeks of Great Lent?  We might protest, but all the emphasis was on fasting, not on the Word of God, why is this only brought up at this point?  Note in the hymn that the Word of God is a person, not a book.  The Word of God is Jesus Christ.  We were supposed to be making room in our hearts, souls and minds for Christ, the Word of God.  To borrow some computer imager, abstinence from food or sin was supposed to be freeing up space and memory in order that our spiritual lives might run better and that we would have spiritual room in our lives for Christ the Word.

Come, Faithful, let us work zealously for the Master, for he distributes wealth to His servants.  Let each of us according to his ability increase his talent of grace:  Let one be adorned in wisdom through good works; let another celebrate a  service in splendor.  The one distributes his wealth to the poor; the other communicates the Word to those untaught.  Thus we shall increase what has been entrusted to us, and, as faithful stewards of grace, we shall be accounted worthy of the Master’s joy.  Make us worthy of this, Christ our God, in Your love for mankind.

Once again in the hymn we are reminded that Christ our Lord has distributed spiritual gifts to each of us and we are supposed to be using them to increase the wealth of grace given to us and to the Church as a whole.  Good deeds such as being charitable to the poor, as well as worshiping God in the church services, and proclaiming the Word to those who do not yet know the Lord Jesus are all ways in which we increase the blessings God bestows on us.  And like the Master in the parable, God will demand an accounting from us of what we have done with the gifts He gave us, with the time we have on earth, with the blessings he bestows on us.  Lenten abstinence was meant to turn us away from ways in which we while away our time, or waste the blessings in selfish pursuit of pleasure.  We were supposed to use the time of Lent in service of God and others!

Behold, the Master has entrusted you with the talent, my soul.  Receive the gift with fear.  Repay the One who gave by giving to the poor, and gain the Lord as your friend, so that when He comes in glory, you may stand at His right hand and hear His blessed  voice:  Enter, My servant, into the joy of your Lord!  Even though I have gone astray, make me worthy of this savior, through Your great mercy.

Our works of charity and mercy are our ways of “repaying” God for the gift of existence and of eternal life.  Many of the saints used the imagery that we indebt God to ourselves when we show charity to the needy.  The hymn above reminds us of the Gospel Parable of the Last Judgment in which we are commanded to show mercy and charity to the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters.  The real fast according to Isaiah 58 (a text we read in the last week of Great Lent) involved being merciful and charitable.  God will accept that type of fasting and will bless us in eternity.   All that we have including our time is a gift from God to be used to love and serve God’s children.   Such is the spiritual fasting we were supposed to be doing through Lent – not wasting God’s gifts on our selfish self interests, but using them to extend God’s mercies and message to more people.  If all we did during Lent was change our diet or inflict suffering on ourselves, we fell short of the goal – to open our hearts and lives to Christ so that we might be more Christ-like in our love for neighbor and our faithfulness to our Father in heaven.

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April Snow Day

Though they had been saying we would get a small amount of snow over night, we woke up to seeing the ground completely snow covered this morning.

I wanted to try to capture the snow in a few photos.  The above were taken at the Cox Arboretum.  They all are full color photos, believe it or not.  The gray skies seemed to turn the landscape into a grayscale photo.  Below is the Tree Tower.


I was hoping to photograph a little color beneath the show – flowers reaching up and through that blanket of white.  Below are Virginia Bluebells:

A Lenten Rose:






Grape Hyacinths:

Looking at the flowers surviving the cold and smothering snow, reminded me of our Great Lenten sojourn – we emerge out of it for the feasts of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday only to enter into Holy Week.  So too it seemed like the harsh winter was behind us, but then this snowfall came down returning us for a short period back to winter.  It too will melt away in the face of Spring, just like wax melts before the fire.

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How Will Others Know That We Are Christians?

The hymns from Great and Holy Monday give us some indication as to what it means to be a Christian.  Orthodoxy places a lot of emphasis on fasting during Lent, and yet fasting is not the goal of the spiritual life.  In the three hymns, below, we find some of the goals of the Christian spiritual life which were what we should have been aiming toward throughout Great Lent.

By this will all men know that you are my disciples,” said the Savior to His friends as He went to His passion, “if you will keep my commandments.  Be at peace among yourselves and with all men.  Think humbly of yourselves and you will be exalted.  And, knowing that I am the Lord, you will sing and exalt me throughout all ages.

Christ teaches us that people will be able to identify the disciples of Christ, not by how ascetical they are, how strictly they keep fasting rules, but if we keep Christ’s commandments.   While Christ commands a variety of things in the Gospels, we see a particular emphasis in what He commands:

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”  (Matthew 22:36-40)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  (John 13:34-35)

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  (John 15:12)

We are identifiable as Christ’s disciples, according to our Lord, when we love as He loved us, when we love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and when we love others as we love ourselves.    If we fail in these commandments to love, then we are not recognizable as Orthodox Christians, and all the Lenten self-denial in the world will not make us His disciples.

The mother of Zebedee’s Children, Lord, could not understand the ineffable mystery of your dispensation.  She asked the honor of a temporal kingdom for her sons, but instead you promised your friends that they should drink the cup of death, a cup that you would drink before them for the cleansing of sins.  Therefore, we cry out to you: O Salvation of our souls, glory to You!”

Discipleship, fasting, abstinence, self-control or self-denial will not help establish the Kingdom of God in this world.   They actually are world denying and teaching us to live for the Kingdom of Heaven.   We are not fasting in order to earn the right to sit at the right and left hand of Christ our Lord.  That thinking purely belongs to the fallen world.   We are trying to learn the values of Christ’s Kingdom, which means learning to deny the self in order to truly love and to move away from the self-serving, self-love we sometimes mistakenly think is what a Christian should aim for.  We are not trying to bribe God, pay God or manipulate God.  Our goal is to love God.  If Lenten efforts don’t bring us to that end, they have “missed the mark” (aka: ‘sin’; Greek: hamartia).

You taught Your disciples, Lord, to desire what is perfect, saying: ‘Be not like the Gentiles, who oppress the weak.  It shall not be so with you, My disciples.  For of My own will I am poor.   Let the first among you, therefore, be the servant of all.  Let the ruler be like those who are ruled.   Let him who is first be like the last.  For I have come to serve Adam in His poverty, and to give My life as a ransom for the many who cry to Me:  O Lord, glory to Your!‘”

Christ came to earth, and descended into Hades in order to serve Adam.  Christ comes to earth as a servant, to meet the needs of humanity.  He didn’t come to earth to become rich and powerful.  He was rich and powerful before leaving the divine throne to become incarnate on earth.

“... our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”  (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Christ gave up riches and power in order to serve us.  He didn’t come into the world as some powerful war lord or conquering emperor.  Rather He came humbly, riding on the ass into Jerusalem.   And humbly He went to Hades, as a servant, in order to serve humanity and lift us from our impoverished condition.  Christ raises us from the dead.  He does the heavy lifting and the work of a servant to free us from our enslavement.   He became the slave so that we might become rich with the blessings of divinity.

“Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.”

(Philippians 2:4-8)

We are to become Christ-like, we are to imitate Christ by serving one another.   Lent is supposed to be a time in which we learn how to be Christ-like, how to serve others rather than try to lord it over them.  Christ served sinners.  He came into the world to save sinners, not the righteous (1 Timothy 1:15; Luke 5:32).  That is who He descended into Hades to liberate.  He didn’t come into the world to make the living, but rather to make the dead to live.  Our ministry is to proclaim this Good News to everyone in the world, and even to the dead.

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

Our ministry is to give life to the world.  Great Lent and Holy Week are designed to help us gain this focus and to attain this goal.  We are to serve the same people that Christ came into the world to save.


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The Holy Week Journey to Christ’s Resurrection (Part 2)

This concludes the blog The Holy Week Journey to Christ’s Resurrection.

Adam Eve TemptationSt. Maximos the Confessor tells us that there is value in self-denial, in abstinence, in fasting.  The passion and crucifixion of Christ, and our sharing in them through Lenten self-denial, remind us that the pleasures of this world are not only fleeting, but can derail our journey to the Kingdom of Heaven.  The pleasures of the flesh tempt us into thinking “this is all there is to enjoy in life” and we pursue them, abandoning that journey to the kingdom.

 “When Adam accepted the sensual pleasure offered to him by Eve, who had come from his side, he expelled humanity from paradise (cf. Gen. 3:24). But when the Lord in His agony was pierced in his side by the lance. He brought the robber into paradise (cf. Luke 23:43). Let us, then, love the suffering of the flesh and hate its pleasure; for the first brings us in and restores God’s blessings to us, while the second drives us out and separates us from those blessings.”  (St. Maximos the Confessor, The Philokalia, Kindle Loc. 15984-93)

So in Holy Week, we contemplate Christ’s life and His suffering – suffering that serves a purpose.  We sojourn with Christ not only to the Cross but also into Hades itself as we die with Him in order to live with Him (Romans 6:4-5).

“The descent into Hades is a super-temporal and super-spatial event, similar to the Resurrection, though not happening on terra firma itself. Nevertheless, the church assigns it a “time, which is Holy Saturday. This is because on Holy Friday Christ is crucified and is buried, and on Easter Sunday Christ is resurrected. Yet to the dead whom Christ visits, it is neither Saturday, nor any day of a week. The spatial references of the descent into Hades are symbolic; Hades is not a physical place, located north or south, east or west, up or down. The iconographic representation of Christ’s body in Hades is symbolic also; consistent with the church’s understanding that Christ’s earthly body still lies in the tomb. The Harrowing of Hades is biblical mythos painted on wood.

That which is iconic and symbolic can be represented with painted images or with words. Images sometimes communicate truth and meaning that definition and explanation cannot. This is especially true regarding spiritual mysteries  and transcendent realities that elude conceptualization.”  (Vigen Guroian, The Melody of Faith: Theology in an Orthodox Key, Kindle Loc. 385-91)

Holy Week and Pascha bring God not only into the world but into the place of the dead.  We move with Christ from earth to Hades to Heaven.  We are moving not just geographically from one point on earth to another but we are moving spiritually into that realm beyond this world which we believe is part of what the Triune God has brought into existence and in which the Father, Son and Holy Spirit work out our salvation.  Incarnation, synergy, theosis.  The macro universe meets the human microcosm of the universe and the quantum universe as well.  We are in the realm not only of the historical but of the eternal.

 “In a powerful hand movement, Christ yanks bewildered Adam and Eve from Hades. We have here the powerful meeting of the two Adams and a foretelling of the fullness of the Kingdom. The two Adams are together and identify one another, no longer in the kenosis of the Incarnation, but in the Glory of the Parousia. He who said to Adam “Where are you?” has mounted the Cross to search for him who was lost. He went down into Hades saying: “Come to me, my image and likeness” (a hymn by St. Ephrem). This is why the groups on the left and the right are in the background: they are the constitutive elements of Adam – that is, all humanity, individual men and women. They are the righteous and the prophets.”     (Vigen Guroian, The Melody of Faith: Theology in an Orthodox Key, Kindle Loc. 1170)

Pascha celebrates the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.  Christ rises not just from some nebulous state of death, but from the place of the dead.  The dead are in fact still part of God’s people and creation.  He is God of those alive beyond the grave.  Again we are experiencing part of creation beyond the visible world.  We enter into this world and experience through our own baptisms.

 “For centuries, baptism was a part of the Easter Liturgy. The entire period of Lent leading to Holy Week and Easter was structured around the preparation of those who had come to believe in Christ but were being instructed in the Faith in order to eventually be baptized. These candidates for baptism were known as catechumens. Easter was the day when they were baptized and received into the Church in the presence of the whole congregation and would celebrate with them their “being buried with Christ by baptism unto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead, so they too may walk in newness of life,” as the Epistle Reading for baptism tells us. Easter was thus a baptismal liturgy, and baptism was the celebration of the new life of the Resurrection, which was given to those who were being incorporated into the Church . . .”   (Fr. Vassilios  Papavassiliou,  Journey to the Kingdom: An Insider’s Look at the Liturgy, Kindle Loc. 1183-89)

CreationAdamEvePascha, the resurrection of Christ, takes us back not only to the original creation of humans, to Paradise, and to those first days of creation, but beyond those seven days to the new day, the eighth day of God’s creation.

“He who for our sake shared in God’s rest of the seventh day also for our sake participates in God’s deifying energy on the eighth day, that is, in the mystical resurrection, and leaves lying in the sepulcher His linen clothes and the napkin that was about his head (cf. John 20:6-7). Those who perceive this, like Peter and John, are convinced that the Lord has risen.”   (St. Maximos the Confessor, The Philokalia, Highlight Loc. 14388-91)

Pascha, the resurrection is real and mystical as well.  Pascha takes us from death to life and from earth to heaven, in fact as well as in symbol.  The sojourn of Great Lent and Holy Week move us not from one geographical location to another but into the depths of our hearts and into the heights of Heaven itself.

 “If therefore, at the present time, having the earnest, we do cry, “Abba, Father,” what shall it be when, on rising again, we behold Him face to face; when all the members shall burst out into a continuous hymn of triumph, glorifying Him who raised them from the dead, and gave the gift of eternal life?” (St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies and Fragments, Kindle Loc. 7661-63)

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The Holy Week Journey to Christ’s Resurrection

Great Lent and Holy Week are both presented to us as a journey, the most important journey we undertake in a life time.  It also happens to be a journey we repeat each year of our lives as Christians.  Through Great Lent and Holy Week we move toward the Resurrection of Christ, toward life in the world to come, toward the Kingdom of Heaven.  Some of us strive toward this godly completion of our lives, some only stroll, and some were carried along by the flow.  St. John Chrysostom says each year at Pascha it doesn’t matter, all are welcomed by Christ.  In and through Great Lent and Holy Week, we are following Christ our Lord.

If we think about it, we may find the self-denial and fasting of Lent and Holy Week to be tolerable because we know it ends at Pascha.  But then, with St. Peter and the Twelve, we may wonder why not just skip the Lenten part, the passion, the crucifixion and leap to the Resurrection and just stay there throughout the year?  We know where Christ is going, why do we need to follow the rigorous path of fasting and abstinence to get there?  We know the goal, why not just skip the journey and be at our destination: the Paschal celebration?

In many ways we are like St. Peter who according to St. Matthew was never thrilled with the thought that Jesus was going to His death (Matthew 16:21-23).  St. John records in his Gospel this dialogue between Christ and Peter (John 13:36-38):

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

We too want to know where Christ is going and we too want to be with Him in His glorious Resurrection.  However, the road to Pascha requires us to journey through Great Lent and Holy Week, through self-denial and repentance, through the passion and death on the cross.  Like Peter we find that we cannot keep with Christ always, and sometimes we deny Him by hiding our faith, by choosing sin, by refusing to forgive, by not wishing to change our lives even in something as small as the food we eat.  Before the cock crows announcing the dawn of Pascha, we too will have denied Christ three times.

The Apostle Thomas said to Christ, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”   (John 14:1-7)

Christ is the way.  Lent and Holy Week are our way to Christ and our way to follow Him to the place He has prepared for us.  Great Lent and Holy Week are times for us to consider how we can actually practice the Imitation of Christ.

“So you should continually keep in mind the great humiliation which the Lord took upon Himself in His ineffable love for us: how the divine Logos dwelt in a womb; how He took human nature upon Himself; His birth from a woman; His gradual bodily growth; the shame He suffered, the insults, vilification, ridicule and abuse; how He was scourged and spat upon, derided and mocked; the scarlet robe, the crown of thorns; His condemnation by those in power; the outcry of the unruly Jews, men of His own race, against Him: ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him’ (John 19:15); the cross, the nails, the lance, the drink of vinegar and gall; the scorn of the Gentiles; the derision of the passers-by who said: ‘If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross and we will believe you’ (cf. Matt. 27:39-42); and the rest of the sufferings which He patiently accepted for us: crucifixion; death; the three-day burial; the descent into hell.”   (St. Mark the Ascetic, The Philokalia,  Kindle Loc. 4406-25)

We can look with awe at Christ, the glorious Son of God, who humbles Himself in order to suffer for us and for our salvation. But He also asks us to imitate Him in our daily lives.  Jesus tells us:  “For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you”  (John 13:15).  We are to live Christ’s humility in our own lives and in our dealings with those around us.  Christ humbles himself to the point of death upon the cross (Philippians 2:5-11).

St. John Chrysostom describes the cross of Christ in these terms:

“This Tree is my eternal salvation. It is my nourishment and my banquet. Amidst its roots I cast my own roots deep; beneath its boughs I grow and expand; as it sighs around me in the breeze I am nourished with delight. Flying from the burning heat, I have pitched my tent in its shadow, and have found a resting-place of dewy freshness. I flower   with its flowers; its fruits bring perfect joy.…

This tree is sweet food for my hunger, a spring of water for my thirst; it is clothing for my nakedness; its leaves are the breath of life … this is my strait path, my narrow way; this is Jacob’s ladder, on which the angels pass up and down, while the Lord in very truth stands at its head. This Tree, vast as heaven itself, rises from earth to the skies, a plan immortal, set firm in the midst between heaven and earth, base of everything that exists, foundation of the universe, support of the whole inhabited world, binding-force of all creation, holding in oneness the complexity of human nature.… With its foot resting firmly on the earth, it towers to the topmost skies, and spans with all-embracing arms in boundless gulf of space between.”  (St. John Chrysostom, Toward an Ecology of Transfiguration, Kindle Loc. 2297-2305)

The Holy Week Journey (Part 2)


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Palm Sunday (2014)

Palm Sunday is considered to be one of the 12 great feasts of the year. Its origin, as that of the preceding Saturday, is from Jerusalem. In the account of her voyage, Egeria (4th c.) describes the particularities of this Sunday, which she calls ‘the Sunday on which they enter the paschal week, which here they call the great week.’ She tells how at the eleventh hour of the day they read the passage describing the children’s coming to greet the Lord with branches and palms (Mt. 21:8, Jn. 12:13), saying: ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ (Mt. 21:9, Ps. 117:26). Then the people walked in procession before the bishop, holding branches, ‘in the same way that they escorted the Lord,’ from the top of the Mount of Olives, through the city, to the Anastasis, where the evening office was celebrated.” (Archimandrite Job Getcha, The Typikon Decoded, pp. 209-210)

 Alexander Schmemann says of the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem:

“We know that the words shouted by the crowd, ‘Hosanna to the son of David,’ we know that those symbols by which they surrounded Christ, palm branches – all of this ‘smelled’ of a political insurrection, all of these were traditional symbols for greeting a king, they signified the recognition of Christ as a king and the rejection of the incumbent authority. ‘Do you not hear how many are witnessing against you?’ (Mt. 27:13) – this is how the authorities interrogated Christ. And at this point Christ did not reject such praise, he did not answer that this was a mistake; and so it is clear that he accepted this celebration on the eve of his betrayal, suffering, and death. He had wished that even for a few moments, even if only in one city, people would see and recognize and proclaim the truth, that genuine authority and glory cannot reside with those who acquire it through external force and power but with the One who taught nothing except love, profound freedom, and subjection only to the higher and divine law of conscience.

This entry into Jerusalem signified the unmasking, for all time, of power based on force and obligation, of power that demands for its existence continual self-adulation. For a few hours in the Holy City there prevailed the kingdom of light and of love, and people recognized and received it. And what is most important, they were never able to forget about it. Huge empires rose and fell, whole governments came to power and declined; they achieved unprecedented power, the unprecedented glory of all sorts of leaders and lords who just as readily vanished, faded into dark nonexistence. ‘What earthly glory remains strong and immutable?’ ask the poet, and we answer – None. But the kingdom of this impoverished and homeless teacher remains and shines with that very joy, with that same hope. And not only once a year on Palm Sunday, but always, truly unto ages of ages. ‘Thy kingdom come’ (Mt. 6:10) – this is the prayer of Christians that is still heard, which still triumphs, however unnoticed or imperceptible its victory in the noise of earthly and transitory glories.” (Tradition Alive, pp. 246-247)

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