среда, 27 апреля 2011 г.

let us enter into it mixed with the crowd and at every step ask ourselves, who am I in this crowd?

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                   Palm Sunday Sermon
                      4 April 1993

....And  Holy  Week is from one end to another a time of tragic confusion.
The  Jews meet Christ at the gates of Jerusalem because they expect of
Him  a  triumphant military leader, and He comes to serve, to wash the
feet  of  His  disciples,  to  give His life for the people but not to
conquer by force, by power. And the same people who meet Him shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!” in a few days will shout, “Crucify Him,
crucify  Him!”  because  He  has  betrayed  their  expectations.  They
expected an earthly victory and what they see is a defeated king. They
hate Him for the disappointment of all their hopes.

And  this is not so alien to us in our days. How many are those people
who  have  turn away in hatred from Christ because He has disappointed
one  hope  or  another. I remember a woman who had been a believer for
all  her  life  and whose grandson died, a little boy, and she said to
me,  “I  don’t believe in God anymore. How could He take my grandson?”
And  I  said  to  her,  “But  you  believed in God while thousands and
thousands and millions of people died.” And she looked at me and said,
“Yes,  but  what  did  that  do to me? I didn’t care, they were not my
children.”  This  is something that happens to us in a small degree so
often  that  we waver in our faith and in our faithfulness to God when
something which we expect Him to do for us is not done, when He is not
an  obedient  servant,  when  we  proclaim  our will, He does not say,
“Amen,”  and does not do it. So we are not so alien from those who met
Christ at the gates of Jerusalem and then turned away from Him.

But  we  are  entering now in Holy Week. How can we face the events? I
think  we  must enter into Holy Week not as observers, not reading the
passages  of  the  Gospel  which are relevant, we must enter into Holy
Week as though we were participants of the events, indeed read of them
but then mix in the crowd that surrounds Christ and ask ourselves, Who
am I in this crowd? Am I one of those who said, ‘Hosanna to the Son of
David!’? And am I now on the fringe of saying, ‘Crucify him’? Am I one
of  the  disciples  who  were  faithful  until the moments of ultimate
danger came upon them?.. You remember that in the Garden of Gethsemane
three  disciples had been singled out for Christ to support Him at the
hour  of  His  supreme  agony, and they did not, they were tired, they
were  desponded  and they fell asleep. Three times He came to them for
support, three times they were away from Him.

We  do  not  meet Christ in the same circumstances but we meet so many
people  who  are  in  agony,  not only dying physically, and that also
happens  to  our  friends, our relatives, people around us, but are in
agony  of  terror  one  way  or  another.  Are  we there awake, alive,
attentive to them, ready to help them out, and if we can’t help, to be
with  them,  to  stand by them or do we fall asleep, that is, contract
out,  turn  away, leave them in their agony, their fear, their misery?
And  again I am not speaking of Judas because no-one of us is aware of
betraying  Christ  in  such  a way, but don’t we betray Christ when we
turn  away  from  all  His  commandments? When He says, “I give you an
example  for  you  to  follow,” and we shake our heads and say, “No, I
will  simply  follow the devices of my own heart.” But think of Peter,
apparently the strongest, the one who spoke time and again in the name
of  others.  When  it came to risking not his life, because no-one was
about  to  kill  him,  to  be  rejected simply, he denied Christ three

What  do  we do when we are challenged in the same way, when we are in
danger  of  being mocked and ridiculed and put aside by our friends or
our acquaintances who shrug their shoulders and say, “A Christian? And
you  believe  in  that?  And  you believe that Christ was God, and you
believe  in  His  Gospel,  and  you are on His side?” How often? O, we
don’t  say, “No, we are not,” but do we say, “Yes, it is my glory, and
if  you  want to crucify Him, if you want to reject Him, reject me too
because  I  choose to stand by Him, I am His disciple, even if I am to
be rejected, even if you don’t let me into your house anymore.”

And  think  of  the  crowd  on Calvary. There were people who had been
instrumental  in His condemnation, they mocked Him, they had won their
victory,  so  they thought at least. And then there were the soldiers,
the  soldiers  who crucified Him. They had crucified innumerable other
people,  they were doing their job. It didn’t matter to them whom they
crucified. And yet Christ prayed for them, “Forgive them, Father, they
don’t   know  what  they  are  doing.”  We  are  not  being  crucified
physically,  but do we say, “Forgive, Father, those who offend us, who
humiliate  us,  who  reject  us, those who kill our joy and darken our
life  in  us.”  Do  we  do  that?  No,  we don’t. So we must recognise
ourselves in them also.

And then there was a crowd of people who had poured out of the city to
see  a  man  die, the fierce curiosity that pushes so many of us to be
curious  when  suffering,  agony  comes  upon people. You will say, it
doesn’t happen? Ask yourself how you watch television and how eagerly,
hungrily  you  look  at  the  horrors  that befall Somalia, the Sudan,
Bosnia  and every other country. Is it with a broken heart? Is it that
you can not endure the horror and turn in prayer to God and then give,
give,  give  generously  all  you can give for hunger and misery to be
alleviated?  Is it? No, we are the same people who came out on Calvary
to see a man die. Curiosity, interest? Yes, alas.

And  then there were those who had come with the hope that He will die
because  if  He  died  on  the  cross,  then  they were free from this
terrifying,  horrible  message  He  had  brought that we must love one
another  to  the  point  of  being  ready  to die for each other. That
message  of the crucified, sacrificial love could be rejected once and
for  all  if  He who preached it died, and it was proved that He was a
false prophet, a liar.

And  then  there were those who had come in the hope that He will come
down  from  the  cross,  and  then they could be believers without any
risk,  they would have joint the victorious party. Aren’t we like that
so often?

And then there is a point to which we hardly should dare turn our eyes
-  the Mother of the Incarnate Son of God, the Mother of Jesus silent,
offering His death for the salvation of mankind, silent and dying with
Him  hour  after hour, and the disciple who knew in a youthful way how
to  love  his master, standing by in horror, seeing his Master die and
the  Mother in agony. Are we like this when we read the Gospel, are we
like this when we see the agony of men around us?

Let  us therefore enter in this Holy Week in order not to be observers
of  what  happened then, let us enter into it mixed with the crowd and
at  every step ask ourselves, who am I in this crowd? Am I the Mother?
Am  I the disciple? Am I one of the crucifiers? And so forth. And then
we  will  be  able  to  meet the day of the Resurrection together with
those  to  whom  it was life and resurrection indeed, when despair had
gone, new hope had come, God had conquered. Amen.


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