Palm Sunday

The royal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem echoes many  details from the life of the ancient kings of Israel and contemporary history.

The crowd  around Jesus was  aware of  King Solomon's royal procession on David's royal mule as he was taken to be anointed as king.

After he rode the royal mule to be anointed, the crowd followed  with shouts of "Long live King Solomon!" and they blew the trumpets and played music on pipes and sang and rejoiced in the royal procession. Riding the royal mule, and then later being seated on David's royal throne, were both acts that confirmed that David's kingship was legitimately being transferred to Solomon. Other narrations  are found in the  book of Jeremiah(13:1-11) and Ezekiel(4:1-4).

William Shakespeare gives a vivid account of the Roman triumphal procession. When Julius Caesar was returning after the victory over the sons of Pompey, the common people  took a holiday, decorated the streets and  shouted slogans for Caesar.

The Jews who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem that day  were aware of the  connections to Israel's past kings  and practices in the  contemporary  empires. His entry on a donkey, the spreading of cloaks beneath Him, and palm branches waving—these all were acts for royalty.

The Jews were eagerly waiting for the fulfillment of the  Prophecy  made  by Zechariah, about 500 years ago. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you;  humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey….. he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth" (Zech. 9:9-10).

They had lived under foreign rule for hundreds of years, with no son of David to rule on the throne. Finally, it seemed, here was the one to reclaim the throne! Just as in the royal parade for Solomon, now nearly ten centuries later the Jewish crowds in the same royal city raised their  voices in the royal procession. They rejoiced and praised God for the mighty works Jesus had done, and said "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

There was a great difference  between the imperial processions and the  triumphant entry of Jesus. In the Roman Imperial Processions, the picture bearers went ahead; the standard bearers  moved ahead of the king; the crosslets  lined before the king. Unlike the Roman imperial processions  Jesus did not have any picture bearers.  There were no bearers of standards , trophies or crosslets.  Jesus was in front and He lead the procession, because Jesus came as the king of peace. He was no ordinary king. He required no special anointing from the priests, for He had been anointed with the Holy Spirit in His baptism. He needed no officials to transfer authority, no borrowed mule from the previous king to establish His legitimacy. He wore no finery or royal robes, and marched with no other army than a small band of fisherman. He carried no sword. He made no political promises.

But Jesus  gave kingly orders. He ordered his disciples, "Go off to the nearby village, you will find a tethered colt, untie it and bring it here." These words  reflected the power of authority. So the disciples did not dare to question him.

Jesus made kingly demands too. In  case  any one questioned them, they were to answer "the master needs it." The master needed a service from the owner of the donkey, and he had the right to demand that service.  As Jesus required the service of the owner of the donkey he needs the service of each and every one of us today.  He keeps  on sending a variety of messages to us  with the impression, "the master needs it."

The master's demands  comes to us through our neighbours.  When we place our Lenten sacrifices remember that the master needs it. The master needs to  extend support to an ailing  brother. The master needs  it to  quench the  thirst of someone. The master needs it to satisfy the hunger of a needy. The master needs it to provide shelter for a homeless. The master needs it to alleviate the pain of the suffering.

Let us remember the words of  Alice Cary, "True worth is in being, not seeming: in doing, each day that goes by some good." During this Holy week  let us ask him, "Lord what do you want from me."


5th Sunday in Lent

  Jer 31: 31-34 ; Heb 6: 7-9 ; Jn 12: 20-33

As human beings, we are naturally drawn to nature. A beautiful vista evokes in us a sense of wonder and awe. Earth's splendor captivates us; its oceans, mountains, deserts, plains and forests help us to find within its quiet places a guiding force, a unity and oneness with Creation.

When we observe nature, we see that all living creatures are built to follow the principle of  altruism. The animal kingdom presents some spectacular examples where each element works to benefit the whole. For instance, we have learned many lessons from the annual migration of geese each winter. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds following. By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent more flying range than if each flew alone. Researchers have also learned that the flock will not follow until all are headed in the right direction and the geese at the back of the formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it immediately feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds ahead, and when a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow their fellow member, to help and provide protection. They stay with this member of the flock until it is able to fly again. Other animals act very similarly. Dolphins support their wounded companions and keep them close to the top of the water to keep them from drowning. Elephants have joined to help one of their own that was dying on the sand. They tried their hardest to pick the dying elephant up by pushing their tusks under its body. Some even broke their tusks in the process. When we observe our surrounding Nature, we discover that the inanimate, vegetative and animate levels of Nature all carry out Nature's principle of bestowal, or altruism.
Jesus tells us in today's gospel, "If a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it produces much fruit." When one buries his own comfort and convenience he finds joy and an inexplicable peace. Jesus uses the metaphors of the "dying grain of wheat" and of "surrendered life": Jesus explains to his apostles that it is by his suffering and death that he is bringing life and liberation to the sinful world. In the same way, it is by the self-sacrificial lives of holy men and women that life and salvation come to mankind. In other words, when we "die" to our selfishness, we "rise" to new life in Jesus Christ.
It is always  because men have been prepared to die that the  great things  have lived. It is a fact  that we have  learned from history that  only by spending life do we retain it. The man  who loves his life is moved by two aims, by selfishness and  by the  desire  for security. Only when people came out of this  were they able to do some thing meaningful in their life.
Just after midnight on Feb. 3, 1943, an act of extraordinary unselfishness by a group of men became a legend of martyrdom and sacrifice.
When the Army ship Dorchester was torpedoed by the Germans just south of Greenland that night, its passengers and crew had 25 minutes to get off the boat. As 902 people went for the life jackets, it quickly was discovered there weren't near enough. Of the 13 lifeboats, only two functioned.
In the ship's final minutes, Methodist senior chaplain George Lansing Fox, Rabbi Alexander Goode, Dutch Reformed minister Clark V. Poling and John P. Washington, a Roman Catholic priest, were helping passengers leave the vessel. Then four men appeared, all of them without life jackets.
The chaplains quickly gave up their own vests and went down with the ship, perishing in the freezing water. Survivors saw them, locked arm in arm, praying and singing the Navy hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" just before the ship dove beneath the waves.
 "The Four Immortal Chaplains," as they are now known, have been honored many times, including on a stamp issued in their honor by the U.S. Postal Service.
This world have lost much if  there had not been men prepared to  forget their  personal safety, security, selfish gain and selfish advancement. The world owes everything  to people who  recklessly  spent their  lives for others. "There came a time when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."  Says Anais Nin. If we seek to avoid all pain,  if we take things easily, if we avoid all stress, if we avoid all risk, if we  become over conscious of our health, if we are preoccupied with our well being, we may exist longer – but we will never live.
The second lesson Jesus emphasized was that only  by service  comes greatness. The people whom  the world remembers with love are the people who serve others. Once, in the middle of the prayer of Yom Kippur, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi removed his tallit and went to a house at the edge of Liozna.
There was a woman who had given birth there who had been left alone when everyone went to the synagogue, and he attended to her vital needs--chopping wood, building a fire and heating water in the midst of the holy day, because the woman's life was in danger.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch commented that here we see the self-sacrifice of Rabbi Schneur Zalman, how he pulled himself away from attachment to Godliness and descended to do a Jew a physical favor.
The Jews looked on Jesus  as their liberator. They looked on glory as conquest, acquisition of power and the right to rule. But Jesus taught that only by service comes greatness.
Let us listen to the message of  Jesus, and do little acts of charity in our work place, in the church, in the community, and wherever we go. May God bless us.


4th Sunday in Lent

  2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23 ;  Eph 2: 4-10 ;  Jn 3: 14-21

 Tiny subterranean termites are  daylight avoiding pests that are literally causing billions of dollars in property damage around the world. They are virtually impossible to control with any approved pesticide. An interesting fact about them is that they cannot tolerate light. They prefer to do their insidious work in complete darkness. If workers chew through to the outside of a piece of wood and light enters, they will fill in the hole with

3rd Sunday in Lent

Ex. 20:1-17; 1 Cor. 1:18, 22-25; Jn. 2:13-25

George Wythe was an American lawyer, a judge, a prominent law professor and "Virginia's foremost classical scholar." Wythe was a planter and slave holder.  He became an abolitionist after the Revolutionary War. After his second wife's death, he divested himself of most of his slaves. He freed his housemaid Lydia Broadnax, as well as Benjamin, a house servant, and other slaves. He also provided them with

2nd Sunday in Lent

Gen 22: 1-18 ;  Romans 8: 31-34 ;  Mk 9: 2-10
A man and a woman had a little daughter. They lived  for her. They were shocked when they discovered that she became chronically ill and her illness resisted the efforts of the best doctors, they became totally discouraged and inconsolable.
Soon she passed away. The parents were completely distressed, and they shut themselves off from their