BLESSED IS HE WHO COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!
Earlier this week I uploaded to Podcast Homilies page a new homily for Palm Sunday. Owing to space and time limitations, I did not comment on the Epistle reading for Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is one of two days in the Church Year in which my homilies at my former parish of St. John Chrysostom and the AIC Podcast Homilies at the AIC web site do not use the appointed prayer book readings. That is because, for reasons beyond my comprehension, Archbishop Cranmer and other authors of the BCP chose to put the Gospel reading describing Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the First Sunday in Advent and not on Psalm Sunday. The Psalm Sunday reading, one of the longest if the prayer book, covers material that I use in homilies and readings for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
For the Podcast Homily series I have used a combination of the four Gospel accounts on the entry into Jerusalem, pointing out the differences between what Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote. Not using these readings on Palms Sunday, it seems to me, deprives the laity of the Church of a contextual narrative of what led to the terrible events of Holy Week. While the Podcast Homilies, being audio files, cannot have pictures, I have provided here three illustrations of the Entry into Jerusalem from the 12th, 15th and 19th Centuries.
The first illustration (above) is a 12th Century mosaic at Palermo Cathedral, Palermo, Sicity, Italy, in the Byzantine style still common in Italy at that time. Jesus is shown riding the donkey sidesaddle, which is a royal style and which is still preferred in Eastern Orthodox Church art works.
The second illustration (right) is a Russian Orthodox icon at Tver, Russia, painted in the 15th Century in yellows and golds with Jesus, clad in a blue robe, again riding side-saddle. In both
cases, Jesus is at the center of the image. The final illustration (left) is an oil on canvas by Russian historical painter Vyacheslav Grigorivich Schwartz showing a symbolic procession imitating the Triumphal Entry reenacted in Red Square in front of the Kremlin in the mid-19th Century.
In St. Luke’s Gospel the royal imagery is most apparent:
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the Highest (Luke 19:38).
The Eastern Church incorporated the account to St. Luke and St. John, plus the Hebrew/Old Testament understanding the imagery of palms as a symbol of victory, into this prayer for Palm Sunday:
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy passion,
Thou didst confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ our 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 that cometh in the Name of the Lord! Amen.
Archbishop Cranmer modified a Collect from the Gregorian Sacramentary (late 6th, early 7th C) for the 1549 BCP
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent Thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon Him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the Cross, that all mankind should follow the example of His great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of His patience, and also be made partakers of His Resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.