THE SUNDAY MESSENGER
April 5, 2020
Gospel Reading: Matthew 20:29-21:17
See also: Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19
Palm Sunday, referred to as Ծաղկազարդ (adorned with flowers), is liturgically known as “Canon for the Coming of Christ our God to Jerusalem on a Donkey.” The coming of Christ operates on two levels: Jesus’ coming into Jerusalem, the capital city in the final days of his earthly life, and his coming into the heavenly Jerusalem, his Kingdom. Even the Trisagionfor the day expresses this dual meaning: «որ եկիր եւ գալոց ես» “You came and you will come again!” The two comings in dialogue with each other result in our theology of Ծաղկազարդ. Living between these two advents is the goal of every Christian, the hope that compels us to commune with the Church, the Body of Christ, and share his love with the world.
In the Gospel reading for Palm Sunday, Jesus tells two of his disciples to bring him a donkey and a colt in order to fulfill the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. His triumphal entry into Jerusalem declared the establishment of the Kingdom of God, which is not an earthly kingdom with a political Messiah, as was expected by many during the time of Jesus, but God’s eternal kingdom revealed through the humble servant, Jesus Christ. Christ is not the earthly king they demanded and he is not the king or ruler we often demand him to be today. But he is the perfect, heavenly King who leads us to his Kingdom with a crown of thorns, a purple robe of mockery, and the Cross as his throne.
Humility and love is what marks the Kingdom of God, and sets it apart from our earthly values, paradigms, and institutions. Today, our humble king comes to us through the Church, and he calls us to follow him on the road of suffering and persecution, one that he promises brings blessing (երանութիւն) and the Kingdom of Heaven. And today his followers, the Church, join the voices of those who sang on that day in Jerusalem, “Hosanna in the highest!” because the one who humbly rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and was put to death on a cross reigns triumphant and victorious. Death could not hold our King.
Following Badarak, during Երեկոյեան Ժամ, the special service Դռնբացէք (Opening of the Doors) is celebrated, which directly connects Palm Sunday to the Church:
With a triumphant song, we praise your coming today in Jerusalem, the new, holy Church, O Christ.
One of the themes of this service is the parable of the Ten Virgins, a theme that will show up again on Great and Holy Tuesday. Why this parable? It’s about going through a door! During the service we beg and plead for God to open the door of the Church to us, as this service traditionally took place on either side of the Church door (and is not liturgically or theologically connected to the opening of the curtain). The heart of the Church is to want to be where God is, in the bridal chamber where we unite and commune with our Bridegroom! The words from Դռնբացէք makes plain as to what we find inside the doors of the Church:
For this is the door to heaven and the valley of sorrow that God pledged to Jacob; rest for the righteous, a place of expiation for sinners, Christ’s palace, a dwelling of angels, an assembly hall of the saints, a place of refuge and the house of God…for she is for us an immaculate mother and of her we are born sons and daughters of light and of truth. And she is for us the hope of life. And through her we find salvation for our souls. She is for us the path to righteousness and through her we ascend to Christ and to our heavenly Father.
Look at your lamp. Do we live as one the wise virgins or as one of the foolish virgins? Is it filled with the oil of preparation because we want to be where God is, to follow him, to walk with him no matter the cost, or will we be caught unprepared when Jesus comes to meet us because other things were more important than what we were created to be, in communion with our Bridegroom? What distracts or diverts us from preparing our lamps? How do we spend our time, money, and talents? With what temporary diversions do we try to fill our spiritual void? Where do we seek refuge if not the Church and the community within?
This parable sets the tone for the rest of Holy Week, and of course the urgency of our faith for the rest of our lives. Stay awake! Be prepared! Jesus is calling us to keep not only a reserve, but an abundance of oil in our lamps. How? If oil has any connection to mercy «ողորմութիւն», which traditionally and etymologically it does, then we stay awake and prepared with works of mercy, charity, and compassion, by bringing the light and healing of Christ to others. Love your neighbor just as the Good Samaritan who seeing a hurting stranger in need “went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine…and took care of him.” (Luke 10:34)
Palm Sunday, including Դռնբացէք, is about the most joyful and greatest entrance of all time, the entrance of God into our world and into our lives, the deepest longing of the human heart. As Great Lent began by recalling the Garden of Eden where the doors to Paradise and the Tree of Life were blocked, Դռնբացէք prepares us to recall the words of Christ,
I am the door; if anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
By Dn. Eric Vozzy
TODAY’S BIBLE READINGS:
Philippians 4: 4-7 (page 180) New Testament
Matthew 20: 29-21:17 (pages 20- 21) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)
Song 1: 1-2:3 (page 608) Old Testament
Zechariah 9:9-15 (page 926) Old Testament
“LORD, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night….” (Nehemiah 1:5-6).
Prayers are requested for Edward Tatoian, Rose Minassian, Ethel Terzian, Taron Poghosyan, Alice Charles and Armen & Theodora Mirakian.
PALM SUNDAY PALMS and PALM SUNDAY FLOWERS are donated by:
– George Arslanian in memory of Marguerite Arslanian
– Paul G. Bogosian in memory of Hermine Bogosian
– David and Marta Brann in memory of Harry & Alice Andonian
– Merle Santerian in memory of Ned Santerian, Dr. Corrine Santerian Moore,
– John & Rose Serabian
– Ronald A. Kashkashian in memory of Arsen & Katherine Kashkashian
– Lynn and Michael Hajatian in memory of the Vosbikian & Hajatian Families
Join us (Virtually!) on Sunday, April 5
As Der Hakob celebrates a Palm Sunday Badarak.
We will be streaming the service LIVE on our Holy Trinity Facebook page (www.facebook.com/holytrinitypa), beginning around 10:30 AM.
• Look for VIDEOS on the left
• A red LIVE message should appear when the streaming starts.
• Click on the VIDEOS / LIVE to watch the service.
Computer Users: No account needed if you are watching from your computer.
Phone / Tablet Users: You will need a Facebook account.