A written transcript of the homily of Patriarch John X of Antioch delivered on Palm Sunday and posted here
Our feast today is the feast of salvation. And in Arabic the feast’s name Shaanin comes from the word Hoshanna “come and save us” which came out of Jerusalem’s children mouths when receiving Jesus which means “the savior” as well. Here we are gathering in this day together with our children to receive the Lord of glory entering to Jerusalem starting the path of His passions out of His love towards mankind. We receive Him holding a candle praying like children and saying: O come You, the heavenly Bridegroom! Crash the darkness of these times and fill the lanterns of our souls with the oil of your divine consolation. Come and wash our souls with the sinner woman’s spikenard so we may become members of their blessed order announcing the tidings of joy of our Lord’s Resurrection, the resurrection of the mankind to the whole world.
What captives our minds in this feast is the fact that it addresses the spirit of the childish innocence in us as the Savior says to us: Come o ye man! Cast away the burdens of this world to receive the Lord in Jerusalem! Come and be a child in your soul and pray for That who sits upon a colt, the foal of an ass in order to free the Man from the darkness of death. Behold! Put at His feet the dresses of the old man as the crowd did receiving Him in Jerusalem! Behold and see with childish eyes Who raised Lazarus! Behold and look at Him with the joy of Mary and Martha and open the gate of your heart for Him. Relieve your ears of the world’s noise so you may hear Him: “My yoke is easy and My burden is light”. When the Church arranged the services of Holy Week She crowned it with the event of the Resurrection and put the raising of Lazarus at the beginning to assure that the heart of this liturgical period is resurrectional par excellence. Yesterday She reminded us of Lazarus’ raising, in a few days we will be holding the Divine Liturgy of Holy Pascha. All these tell us that we are made of the Resurrection and live on its anticipation.
At the end of the 19th century Bishop Athanasius Atallah of eternal memory, bishop of Emessa the precious diocese with its good people, he wrote a poem describing this feast. What he has written penetrated our hearts and memorized it repeating it every year: Rejoice, rejoice O Bethany! O this day God came to thee. And in Him the dead are made alive. As it is right for He is the life.
We are called upon to make each one’s heart a “Bethany” despite all the tragedies that surround us and the horrors that happen to our country. We are called upon to trust as we were and as we will remain in God’s power. And hereby we repeat the words of Athanasius Atallah and add: Rejoice, rejoice, O Bethany! On this day God came to thee and in Him the dead are made alive. As it is right for He is the life. Thou came to us, O merciful. A great savior to the world. We do hope O Lord for an abundance of love and peace. O dear Lord bestow upon Syria peace and love and amity. And protect Lebanon’s youth safe and strong with dignity. To Thee o Lord of Creation we kneel down in reverence profound strengthen through Thee O Jesus!
May God preserve these blessed days giving us the life of His divine peace. And protect Syria and the whole world. Amen.