(This site omits the readings appointed for Passion Sunday in the historic one-year lectionary and appoints these instead.)
The Sunday Next Before Easter
The Entry into Jerusalem (L’entrata in Gerusalemme),
Giotto, circa 1305, Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, Padua, Italy
FOR THE EPISTLE
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. 11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. 12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee; 13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man. 14 And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. 15 The Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.
GIVE thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious : because his mercy endureth for ever.
2. Let Israel now confess that he is gracious : and that his mercy endureth for ever.
3. Let the house of Aaron now confess : that his mercy endureth for ever.
4. Yea, let them now that fear the Lord confess : that his mercy endureth for ever.
5. I called upon the Lord in trouble : and the Lord heard me at large.
6. The Lord is on my side : I will not fear what man doeth unto me.
7. The Lord taketh my part with them that help me : therefore shall I see my desire upon mine enemies.
8. It is better to trust in the Lord : than to put any confidence in man.
9. It is better to trust in the Lord : than to put any confidence in princes.
10. All nations compassed me round about : but in the Name of the Lord will I destroy them.
11. They kept me in on every side, they kept me in, I say, on every side : but in the Name of the Lord will I destroy them.
12. They came about me like bees, and are extinct even as the fire among the thorns : for in the Name of the Lord I will destroy them.
13. Thou hast thrust sore at me, that I might fall : but the Lord was my help.
14. The Lord is my strength, and my song : and is become my salvation.
15. The voice of joy and health is in the dwellings of the righteous : the right hand of the Lord bringeth mighty things to pass.
16. The right hand of the Lord hath the pre-eminence : the right hand of the Lord bringeth mighty things to pass.
17. I shall not die, but live : and declare the works of the Lord.
18. The Lord hath chastened and corrected me : but he hath not given me over unto death.
19. Open me the gates of righteousness : that I may go into them, and give thanks unto the Lord.
20. This is the gate of the Lord : the righteous shall enter into it.
21. I will thank thee, for thou hast heard me : and art become my salvation.
22. The same stone which the builders refused : is become the head-stone in the corner.
23. This is the Lord’s doing : and it is marvellous in our eyes.
24. This is the day which the Lord hath made : we will rejoice and be glad in it.
25. Help me now, O Lord : O Lord, send us now prosperity.
26. Blessed be he that cometh in the Name of the Lord : we have wished you good luck , ye that are of the house of the Lord.
27. God is the Lord who hath shewed us light : bind the sacrifice with cords, yea, even unto the horns of the altar.
28. Thou art my God, and I will thank thee : thou art my God, and I will praise thee.
29. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious : and his mercy endureth for ever.
St. Mark 11:1-11
AND when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither. 4 And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him. 5 And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? 6 And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.
7 And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him. 8 And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying,
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord:
Hosanna in the highest.
11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.
From a sermon of Andrew of Crete, bishop, 7th and 8th centuries
Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he returns from Bethany and proceeds of his own free will toward his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.
Let us run to accompany him as he hastens toward his passion, and imitate those who met him then, not by covering his path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before him by being humble and by trying to live as he would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at his coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.
In his humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and he is glad that he became so humble for our sake, glad that he came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to himself. And even though we are told that he has now ascended above the highest heavens – the proof, surely, of his power and godhead – his love for man will never rest until he has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with his own in heaven.
So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of his victory. Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.