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—Troparion of the The Lord’s Entry Into Jerusalem

By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion,
Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God.
Like the children with the palms of victory,
we cry out to Thee, O Vanquisher of Death:
“Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!”

 

Lazarus Saturday

The week following the Sunday of St Mary of Egypt is called Palm or Branch Week. At the Tuesday services of this week the Church recalls that Jesus’ friend Lazarus has died and that the Lord is going to raise him from the dead (Jn 11). As the days continue toward Saturday, the Church, in its hymns and verses, continues to follow Christ towards Bethany to the tomb of Lazarus. On Friday evening, the eve of the celebration of the Resurrection of Lazarus, the “great and saving forty days” of Great Lent are formally brought to an end:


Having accomplished the forty days for the benefit of our souls, we pray to Thee, O Lover of Man, that we may see the holy week of Thy passion, that in it we may glorify Thy greatness and Thine unspeakable plan of salvation for our sake. ...(Vesper Hymn)


Lazarus Saturday is a paschal celebration. It is the only time in the entire Church Year that the resurrectional service of Sunday is celebrated on another day. At the liturgy of Lazarus Saturday, the Church glorifies Christ as “the Resurrection and the Life” who, by raising Lazarus, has confirmed the universal resurrection of mankind even before his own suffering and death.


By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy passion, Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the branches of victory, we cry out to Thee, O Vanquisher of Death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord! (Troparion).

Christ —the Joy, the Truth and the Light of All, the Life of the world and its Resurrection—has appeared in his goodness to those on earth. He has become the Image of our Resurrection, granting divine forgiveness to all (Kontakion).


At the Divine Liturgy of Lazarus Saturday the baptismal verse from Galatians: As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3:27) replaces the Thrice-holy Hymn thus indicating the resurrectional character of the celebration, and the fact that Lazarus Saturday was once among the few great baptismal days in the Orthodox Church Year. Because of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, Christ was hailed by the masses as the long-expected Messiah-King of Israel. Thus, in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, he entered Jerusalem, the City of the King, riding on the colt of an ass (Zech 9:9; Jn 12:12). The crowds greeted him with brancfies in their hands and called out to him with shouts of praise: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! The Son of David! The King of Israel! Because of this glorification by the people, the priests and scribes were finally driven “to destroy him, to put him to death” (Lk 19:47; Jn 11:53, 12:10).

 

From the series "The Orthodox Faith, Volume II - Worship" by Fr. Thomas Hopko. 

Copyright © 1981  Department of Religious Education - Orthodox Church in America.

 

The Raising of Lazarus
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

 

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

We are at the threshold of Holy Week, but on thus threshold, we are filled with a great and joyful hope by the raising of Lazarus. The Lord is stronger than death, the Lord has overcome it; not only in the obvious sense in which it is manifested in the bodily raising of Lazarus, but in another sense which concerns us from day to day even more directly. God created man as a friend for himself, and this friendship is made closer and deeper by our baptism. Each one of us is a friend of God, as Lazarus was called, and in each one of us this friend of God once lived; lived by his friendship with God, lived by the hope that this friendship would become deeper, stronger, brighter. Sometimes this was in our early childhood, sometimes later, in our youth, but in each of us this friend of Christ lived. And then in the process of living, as a flower fades, as the forces of life, hope, joy, purity dwindle, so the strength of the Lord’s friend dwindles, and many a time we feel as though he is lying as in a coffin somewhere inside us. We cannot even say that he is resting, we have to say that the friend of the Lord is lying four days dead, stricken by a horrible death, whose coffin his sisters are afraid to approach because his body is already decomposing. Often our soul grieves over this friend, often Martha and Mary grieve over him; that side of the soul which by its vocation, in strength and abilities is, like Mary, capable of contemplation, of sitting in silence at the feet of the Lord, listening to every life-giving word and becoming alive and tremulous; and the other side, which could be like Martha capable of doing God's work with inspiration, in truth and purity, could be, not a worried servant — but capable of transforming the most ordinary things by her love and care into the Kingdom of God, the manifestation of human and divine love. And so these two elements in us, the Mary and the Martha, the contemplative and the creative powers grieve over the death of Lazarus, the friend of the Lord.

At certain moments the Lord comes near to us, and when we see him we are ready to exclaim with Martha "Lord, why were You not here when the struggle between life and death was being resolved, the moment when Lazarus was still alive though mortally wounded and could have been retained in this life. If you had been here he would not have died." But the Lord was here, He was here all the time when our soul was dying, and we heard his words "Do you believe that he will rise again?" With Martha we are ready to answer: "Yes, Lord, on the last day.' But Martha spoke with such hope. She said: “I always have believed, that you are the Lord and I believe that he will rise again on the Last Day”. Whereas we gloomily agree that on the Last Day he will rise again — but only when, as the Great Canon puts it, the Feast of Life is over and it will be too late to achieve anything on earth, too late to to live in faith and hope and the joy of ever-increasing love. But the Lord gives the same answer to our hopelessness as He did to her perfect hope: "I am the Resurrection and the Life, He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."

There is a further point. Martha did not know at that time that a few days previously Christ had told His disciples that Lazarus was sick unto death, did not know that He allowed him to die in order that he might rise again enriched with such experience so filled with the victory of God that nothing could ever shake him and so the Lord came and commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead.

Here is the image for us: in each of us Lazarus is lying dead, vanquished surrounded by our often hopeless grieving. But the Gospel reading just before the days of the Passion has this message: "Do not fear, I am the Resurrection and the Life. The Lord's friend that is in you whom you consider irrevocably dead can rise again at a single word of mine, and indeed will rise again." So let us enter the days of the Passion with the hope, with the certainty that we are going towards the transition from the temporary to the eternal, from death to life, from our defeat to the victory of God. Let us enter these days of the Passion with trepidation at the knowledge of how much the Lord loves us and at what cost He gives us life. Let us enter with hope and light in our hearts, and joy in the coming resurrection.

 

Palm Sunday - The Lord's Entry into Jerusalem

The feast of Christ’s triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, is one of the twelve major feasts of the Church. The services of this Sunday follow directly from those of Lazarus Saturday. The church building continues to be Vested in resurrectional splendor, filled with hymns which continually repeat the Hosanna offered to Christ as the Messiah-King who comes in the name of God the Father for the salvation of the world.

The main troparion of Palm Sunday is the same one sung on Lazarus Saturday. It is sung at all of the services, and is used at the Divine Liturgy as the third antiphon which follows the other special psalm verses which are sung as the liturgical antiphons in the place of those normally used. The second troparion of the feast, as well as the kontakion and the other verses and hymns, all continue to glorilfy Christ s triumphal manifestation “six days before the Passover” when he will give himself at the Supper and on the Cross for the life of the world.


Today the grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us together. Let us all take up Thy cross and say: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest! (First Verse of Vespers).

When we were buried with Thee in baptism, O Christ God, we were made worthy of eternal life by Thy resurrection. Now we praise Thee and sing: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord! (Second Troparion).

Sitting on Thy throne in heaven, and carried on a foal on earth, O Christ God, accept the praise of angels and the songs of children who sing: BIessed is he who comes to recall Adam! (Kontakion).


At the vigil of the feast of Palm Sunday the prophecies of the Old Testament about the Messiah-King are read together with the Cospel accounts of the entry of Christ into Jerusalem. At Matins branches are blessed which the people carry throughout the celebration as the sign of their own glorification of Jesus as Saviour and King. These branches are usually palms, or, in the Slavic churches, pussy willows which came to be customary because of their availability and their early blossoming in the springtime.

As the people carry their branches and sing their songs to the Lord on Palm Sunday, they are judged together with the Jerusalem crowd. For it was the very same voices which cried Hosanna to Christ, which, a few days later, cried Crucify him! Thus in the liturgy of the Church the lives of men continue to be judged as they hail Christ with the “branches of victory” and enter together with him into the days of his “voluntary passion.”

 

From the series "The Orthodox Faith, Volume II - Worship" by Fr. Thomas Hopko. 

Copyright © 1981  Department of Religious Education - Orthodox Church in America.

 

The Lord's Entry into Jerusalem
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

 

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Today Christ enters the path not only of His sufferings but of that dreadful loneliness which enshrouds Him during all the days of Passion week. The loneliness begins with a misunderstanding; the people expect that the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem will be the triumphant procession of a political leader, of a leader who will free his people from oppression, from slavery, from what they consider godlessness – because all paganism or idol-worship is a denial of the living God. The loneliness will develop further into the dreadful loneliness of not being understood even by His disciples. At the Last Supper when the Saviour talks to them for the last time, they will be in constant doubt as to the meaning of His words. And later when He goes into the Garden of Gethsemane before the fearful death that is facing Him, His closest disciples, Peter, John and James – whom He chose to go with Him fall asleep, depressed, tired, hopeless. The culmination of this loneliness will be Christ’s cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Abandoned men, rejected by the people of Israel He encounters the extreme of forsakenness and dies without God, without men, alone, with only His love for God and His love for mankind, dying for its sake and for God’s glory.

The beginning of Christ’s Passion is today’s triumphal procession; the people expected a king, a leader – and they found the Saviour of their souls. Nothing embitters a person so much as a lost, a disappointed hope; and that explains why people who could receive Him like that, who witnessed the raising of Lazarus, who saw Christ’s miracles and heard His teaching, admired every word, who were ready to become His disciples as long as He brought victory, broke away from Him, turned their backs on Him and a few days later shouted, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” And Christ spent all those days in loneliness, knowing what was in store for Him, abandoned by every one except the Mother of God, who stood silently by, as she had done throughout her life, participating in His tragic ascent to the Cross; she who had accepted the Annunciation, the Good Tidings, but who also accepted in silence Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart.

During the coming days we shall be present – not just remember, but be present – at Christ’s Passion. We shall be part of the crowd surrounding Christ and the disciples and the Mother of God; as we hear the Gospel readings, as we listen to the prayers of the Church, as one image after another of these days of the Passion passes before our eyes, let each one of us ask himself the question, “Where do I stand, who am I in this crowd? A Pharisee? A Scribe? A traitor, a coward? Who? Or do I stand among the Apostles?” But they too were overcome by fear. Peter denied Him thrice, Judas betrayed Him, John, James and Peter went to sleep just when Christ most needed human love and support; the other disciples fled; no one remained except John and the Mother of God, those who were bound to Him by the kind of love which fears nothing and is ready to share in everything.

Once more let us ask ourselves who we are and where we stand, what our position in this crowd is. Do we stand with hope or despair, or what? And if we stand with indifference, we too are part of that terrifying crowd that surrounded Christ, shuffling, listening, and then going away; as we shall go away from church. The Crucifix will be standing here on Thursday and we shall be reading the Gospel about the Cross, the Crucifixion and death – and then what will happen? The Cross will remain standing, but we shall go away for a rest, go home to have supper, to sleep, to prepare for the fatigues of the next day. And during this time Christ is on the Cross, Christ is in the tomb. How awful it is that, like the disciples in their day, we are not able to spend one night, one hour with Him. Let us think about this, and if we are incapable of doing anything, let us at least realise who we are and where we stand, and at the final hour turn to Christ with the cry, the appeal of the thief, Remember me, Lord, in Thy Kingdom. Amen.

 

The Annual Cycle of Orthodox Worship



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