Community of Tampa | St. Pete | Florida

The Poor Family

John 12:12-23

Once a wealthy nobleman decided to take his son to one of the poorest villages in their country as an effort to show his son what difficulties and challenges those people face on a daily basis. After spending the whole day with one of the poorest families there, the nobleman asked his son on the way back to their home saying, “Did you notice how poor they were? Please tell me what you have learned from them?” Surprisingly, the son responded by saying, “We have one dog at our home but they have four. We have one swimming pool but they happen to have an entire river to swim in! We use our phones and computers all night to keep ourselves entertained and distracted, but they have the entire beautiful night sky to look upon and enjoy. We buy food to survive but they feed themselves with fresh foods they’ve planted with their very own hands. We have walls and gates to protect us but in comparison they have their trusted friends and neighbors to guard them. We have big encyclopedias to educate us but they look to the Bible for education and instruction.” After all these realizations, the son of the nobleman added wisely, “Thank you father for this opportunity, for showing me how poor we are.”

Today the Armenian church celebrates the feast known as the second Palm Sunday. As many of you know, the first Palm Sunday is celebrated right before Holy Week. We begin the Eastern cycle with Palm Sunday and forty day after Easter we return again to this feast. So why does the Armenian Church celebrate this feast twice and what is the significance of this? Today’s Gospel reading proclaims that Christ triumphantly and yet so humbly entered Jerusalem as people laid palms and garments on the road and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” The meaning behind this is that our lives begin with Christ and they are to end with Him as well. We celebrate Easter only by celebrating Palm Sunday, where Christ enters into our hearts only when He notices that we are willing to strive and cleanse our inner selves.

During these forty days, we faced many changes and challenges, but Christ God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Christ came to usher in a new kind of kingdom, a new spiritual kingdom, fit for the new spiritual race of man that He became incarnate and suffered death for. Those looking for peace and comfort outside of Christ will be searching forever. Christ is our peace. Christ is our life. Christ offers us friendship with God. He is our reconciliation. Man will never achieve peace, healing and comfort unless they come together in Christ God.

Upon His entry into Jerusalem, Jesus doesn’t revolt against the Roman authorities, He does not try to take Herod’s throne. Instead, throughout His earthly ministry He does the following, indicative of the new kind of Kingdom He inaugurates for us: He gives sight to the blind, multiplies the loaves and the fish, makes the lame walk, heals the lepers, and casts out the demons. He forgives the sins of those who come to Him in faith and, He raises Lazarus from the dead. For all these acts of mercy, the Jewish authorities are indignant. Those who reject Him don’t want a new spiritual race of Adam; they’re looking for a ‘military Messiah’ who would erase the Roman authorities from Jerusalem and give it to the Jewish people. Instead, Jesus comes riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. The Jewish authorities, with some notable exceptions must have been very disappointed and even more confused; this was not how it was supposed to be. But how was it supposed to be then?

In today’s story, we notice a life changing event. The nobleman’s son considered himself poor as soon as he discovered how wholesomely the poor family lived. He found that the poor family was living a better life than they because Christ was the center of their lives. Christ’s coming changed their lives and provided the necessities to have not only a prosperous spiritual but also a comfortable daily life. Today as we celebrate the second Palm Sunday, we ask ourselves, “What have I learned during the past forty days, what changes have occurred and what have I learned from them?

If we’ve missed the opportunity to repent during this past forty-day cycle and confront our fears, doubts, anxieties and challenges that constantly flood our minds even still during this pandemic, we go back to Christ again. Today by means of repentance, we attempt to give up all those vestiges of our formal life—our life apart from God. We follow our Lord and take up our cross in humility, the very mentality of what it means to be a Christian in the world but not of the world. To love as Christ did and not let all these current challenges consume us. As we move forward during this challenging time, I encourage and pray that you all make Christ your priority, to receive Him as He comes to us, that this time of the year can be a time spent for renewal and growth in our lives, uniting us further with Him who is Life itself; the vanquisher of death, sin, doubts and fears. In this way, Christ’s victory over sin and death will be accomplished in us. To that end, we pray in this spirit with those who cried out to Christ on His entry to Jerusalem saying, “Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he that come in the name of the Lord.” Amen.

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