Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on an ass’s colt!” His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of Him and had been done to Him. John 12: 14-16 (Gospel of Liturgy on Palm Sunday) Palm Sunday
Good morning Prayer Team!
When you think of the word “King”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe a crown, a castle, loyal subject, flowing robes, rich banquets, a large army, trumpets and banners. I’m sure that the word “donkey” is not the first word that comes to mind.
Perhaps this is why after the crowded scene in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday ended, everyone was left wondering what it meant. The Gospel of John even says that the Disciples didn’t understand the significance of what had just happened. The people of Jerusalem were confused. Even the Temple elite were perplexed. How could anyone interpret a man riding on a donkey as the sign of an impending military overthrow?!
What do you think of when you hear the word “Glory”? I think of brightness, majestic mountains, powerful waterfalls, crashing waves, millions of stars in a cloudless sky. I don’t think of holding a screaming baby, or comforting someone who is sad, or helping a frustrated child with his homework, or visiting an intensive care unit to see someone who is seriously sick.
Christ made a statement on Palm Sunday. And that statement is that being a King or a leader is not about the strength of an army or being a conqueror. It was that His “kingship” was not to lead His followers to political freedom but to spiritual freedom. And the path to glory was not going to be lined with material victory but with material poverty. Christ could have ridden into Jerusalem on the most expensive chariot, surrounded by armies of angels. And yet He chose to ride a simple donkey, not even a championship racehorse.
The path to God’s glory does not wind through big houses, loud restaurants or exciting athletic contests. The path to God’s glory winds through humility—taking care of those who need help, and doing good not for the sake of material reward but for the purpose of eternal life, doing it for the Lord.
Palm Sunday “turned the tables” on everything society taught then and still teaches. We ride our children to be great students, so that they will get great jobs and make great money. We coach them to be good athletes with the hope that they might become professional athletes with the fame and fortune that follow. We occupy ourselves with the pursuit of the almighty dollar so that we can build on our material wealth. And we forget sometimes to instill humility in our children, or seek it ourselves.
There is nothing wrong with having a nice home, or having a nice job, or taking a nice trip, or having your child get into a nice college. But in the midst of all of this, let us not forget the image of our Lord riding on a simple donkey. Let us not forget that the path to His glory is not found by achieving our own glory, but in taking His path, one of humility and servitude.
“Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your King is coming, sitting on an ass’s colt!” We need to fear not, we the children of God, that our “King” calls us to humility. Fear not to comfort a child. Fear not to refrain from encouragement to sin. Fear not to visit the sick. Fear not to love your neighbor.
Remember that fear and love cannot co-exist. Growing in God’s love necessitates ignoring fear of the consequences of following God, and ignoring the fear of stepping outside of our comfort zone which calls us to greater sense of self, in order to have a greater sense of Him!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. God is the Lord, and He revealed Himself to us. Save us, O Son of God, who sat on a donkey’s colt, we sing to You Alleluia. (Hymn of the Entrance of Palm Sunday, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)Never fear humility!
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