Why do we read this epistle on Palm Sunday, since it is not about suffering, or the cross or the resurrection? There are many other epistles about these things, but this epistle contains instructions that must be applied during Holy Week in order to truly benefit from Pascha. We can understand how to apply the Apostle Paul’s instructions by looking at the good and bad examples in today’s Gospel, such as Mary, who annointed the Lord, Judas, the people, and the high priests. There are many lessons here, and all of Holy Week will contain many more. The Lord is at hand!
The whole point of Great and Holy week is to prepare us to fully understand and live in the resurrection – not just during the approaching Pascha, but in all of our life. We must listen to the Gospels and hymns with this objective. In Great Monday Matins, the Gospel contains the story of the fig tree that withered; this very short homily explains the spiritual meaning of this passage. The more obvious teaching of this action of our Lord is that we must bear fruit – growing in the virtues and holiness – or else we will wither away. There is much more: the season in which the Lord cursed the fig tree allows us no excuses for our lack of fruit, and we learn that faith is built upon obedience and the bearing of fruit.
“O brethren, let us fear the punishment of the fig tree, / withered because it was unfruitful; / and let us bring worthy fruits of repentance unto Christ, // who grants us His great mercy.” (Great Monday Matins, Aposticha, T8)
Another “two-fer” today. Homilies on St Mary of Egypt, and the Sunday Gospel for the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent. As is always the case, the Scriptures have a lot to say about how we should live, and St Mary is the quintessential example of how to repent.
Synopsis: The 2 epistles for the 5th Sunday of Great Lent describe well the life of St Mary of Egypt, and also how we must live. Truly, after her repentance, she “Put on Christ”, and had her conscience purged from dead works. We look in some detail at her life and how these scriptures will fulfilled in her life, and must also be fulfilled in ours.
Synopsis: The Gospel for the 5th Sunday of Lent not only sets the stage for our Lord’s passion, which we will shortly go through on our way to Pascha, but also teaches two important truths. Firstly, learning takes time. This may seem like a simple and obvious truth, but it is often an ignored truth. Second: without humility, there will be no learning at all.