2017-04-09 Homily. Father François Beyrouti. Guess what happened at Church today?
Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017. Father François Beyrouti homily. Guess what happened at Church today?
PROKIMENON (Tone 4)
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. God is the Lord and he has appeared to us.
Stichon: Sing to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever
A reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians (4:4-9).
Brethren, rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety, but in every prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And may God’s peace that surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything is worthy of praise: consider these things. And what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, these things practice — and the God of peace will be with you.
ALLELUIA (Tone 3) (SL.. Tone 1)
Sing to the Lord a new song; for the Lord has done wonderful works.
Stichon: All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Gospel. John 12:1-18. The Glorious Entry into Jerusalem.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany the home of Lazarus, he had raised from the dead. And they made him a supper there; and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those sitting at table with him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment, genuine nard of great value, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and with her hair wiped his feet dry. And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then one of his disciples, Judas son of Simon the Iscariot, the one who was about to betray him, said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?” Now he said this, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and holding the purse, used to take what was put in it. Jesus therefore said, “Let her be: she was to keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you have always with you, but you do not always have me.” Now the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there; and they came, not only because of Jesus, but that they might see Lazarus, the man he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also. For on his account many of the Jews began to leave them and to believe in Jesus. Now the next day the great crowd which had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took up palm fronds and went out to meet him. And they cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel!” And Jesus found a young ass, and sat upon it, as it is written, “Fear not, daughter of Sion; behold, thy king comes, sitting upon the colt of an ass.” These things his disciples did not at first understand. But when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered these things were written about him, and that they had done these things to him. The crowd therefore, which was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness to him. And the reason why the’ crowd also went to meet him was that they heard he had worked this sign.
I do my best to not annoy anyone. But I must admit that sometimes, very rarely, but yes, at times, I take great joy in making some people feel just little bit uncomfortable.
For example, I once called someone who had not come to Church for a while asked: “Guess what happened at Church today?” “What happened?” He said in a very surprising way. I said “Well if you were at Church today, you wouldn’t have to guess.” The good news is that he did come to Church the next week and he didn’t have to guess what happens at Church.
Although this is a fun question to ask those who did not come to Church today, it is actually an even more important question to ask ourselves who are here. Guess why we are at Church today?
The most obvious answer may be that we are here to celebrate Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem and was welcomed by great crowds who shouted: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (John 12:14). But there is more.
We might also say that we are here to prepare for Holy Week and accompany Jesus during the time He suffered, was crucified, and died for us. This is a special time to reflect on how much Jesus loves us. Saint Paul says in his letter to the Romans: “Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man -- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die.  But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).
We have even more reason to be here as Christ not only died, but also rose from the dead for us. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the heart of the Christian message. Saint Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain… If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins… But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17, 20).
We have so much to be grateful for, we don’t have to guess why we are here. So we can say we are here to celebrate everything Jesus has done for us. But guess what? Believe it or not, there is more.
Christianity is not an idea or a philosophy, it is a historic religion that remembers and celebrates events that took place at a specific time and place. In the Nicene Creed we recite every Sunday we say that Jesus “was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate” to highlight the historical nature of the crucifixion. Also, the years in our calendar are determined by the birth of Jesus. B.C. refers to the time before Christ and A.D., anno domini, is Latin for “the year of the Lord.” We are in the year of the Lord, 2017, which means that Jesus was born 2017 years ago.
When we come to Church we celebrate historical events, but we have more reason to celebrate because those events are not limited to some past time in history but continue to be relevant in our lives, in this place, and in this time.
So guess why we are here today? Because we want to be with Jesus as He is entering into Jerusalem. We want to accompany Jesus as He is condemned as a criminal. We want to be with Jesus as He is suffering on the cross. And we want to be with Jesus as He rises from the dead.
The bringing of the Gospel message into our daily lives is what makes Christianity real today. The early Christian community knew that Jesus’s death and resurrection was not just about something that happened in the past but about something that is happening in our lives right here and right now.
Jesus entered into Jerusalem and today wants to enter into our lives and into our world. He wants us to welcome Him as the king of our hearts, minds, and actions.
Guess what is happening at Church today? I came worried about my future, about my family, about my health, about world affairs, and about so many things, but something amazing happened at Church today. I stopped and welcomed Jesus into my life and committed myself to walk with Him in very practical ways through the things I say and the things I do. Suddenly the dark cloud of my anxiety disappeared and the light of Christ began to shine brightly to show me a new way.
When we commit and re-commit our lives to Christ and walk with Him we don’t have to guess about how different our lives will be. Everything about us will be radically different.
In addition to the excitement of this day and week, it is important for us to slow down to ask ourselves what our faith means to us, how we can grow in our faith, and how we can live more of Jesus’s message. When we do this, neither we nor anyone else will have to guess what happened at Church today.
It will be obvious what happened to me today, what happened to my family today, what happened to the rest of my life because of a renewed commitment to be a true follower of Jesus that I made today.
Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
My cell phone: 714-914-1710
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24