Today is Entrance Sunday (or Palm Sunday, as it is more commonly known in the West.) This is the day when the Church remembers the entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem. But what does this day mean? Why all the celebration, the festivity the pomp?
The entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem marks the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s covenant. The Final Covenant in His Blood, which was foretold by the Prophets and IS our salvation. But since it is Christ, isn’t everything a part of this covenant? Why should we celebrate this single action of Christ so much? For this to make any sense we will need to understand two things, the importance of Jerusalem, and the meaning of the Entrance.
I think it’s important to make a first remark that may come as a shock to some of you (I hope you will forgive me), Christianity is not an American religion. It is not even a Western religion. Yes, a great many people in this country and in the West in general have converted or been brought up as Christians, but that doesn’t change the roots of Christianity, which are (call me biased) Eastern. As such, we need to forget our “Westernisms” for a little bit, in order to understand the importance of Jerusalem and this day of celebration.
Here’s a hymn to help you out:
Jerusalem was not only the political capital of Israel, it was also the spiritual capital. God Himself was there, present in the Holy of Holies in the innermost part of the Temple. The Old Testament is full of descriptions of God entering the dwelling place that the Israelites had fashioned for Him. Perhaps none of these was greeted with more celebration than the entrance of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem under the reign of King David. This is the event that prefigured the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. This city was seen as the city of all cities, and still is in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. This is the Holy City, in which God dwelt, first in the Temple and then later in Christ.
Thus, we celebrate God’s giving of Himself to mankind, coming to our cities, to our churches, to our homes, and to hearts, all of this prefigured by Christs entrance into Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the symbol for all of mankind. Thus, we celebrate this, not only in remembrance of the historical event, but to rekindle our dedication to God’s presence in our lives. The Entrance celebration in the parish church, with it’s festive hymns, palms, and willows, marks Christs coming into the center of the community of the faithful. We continue this celebration in our homes, marking the coming of Christ into the center of our family. These celebrations stand to remind us that Christ is the center of our lives. Our little participation in the welcoming of Christ into the center of mankind, those outwards signs, the branches and palms, are a physical representation of our joy in this great occasion that God has come to us, and they serve as a reminder of the commitment that this presence of God holds us to. We will need this outward signs as the days go on, and the celebration and festive meals and hymns are behind us; just as a spouse needs the kisses and embraces of their beloved spouse and children to get them through the tribulations of life. And for Christians this tribulation comes to a peak in just a few short days.
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Hosanna to the Son of David
Hosanna in the highest.
Hosanna to the King of Israel.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia. Glory be to our God.