Advent 1 (Ad Te Levavi), 2014
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
November 30, 2014
Central Passage
Matthew 21:1-9

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Here is the point of today’s readings, the direction the liturgy takes us in today: the Lord Jesus enters. It is a fitting theme for the beginning of the Church Year, though it seems like it would be a fitting theme for the end of the Church Year. The end of the story is always when the hero finally gets to his destination; when he finally arrives back at home or wherever he has been heading on his journey. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that stories don’t usually begin by welcoming the heroic king home.

But it is fitting for the Church because there is nothing usual about the Church or her King.

He wins by dying; so does she.

He conquers in humility; not by brandished swords and armies.

He makes converts by setting men free; whereas the world makes converts through threats and by taking them captive.

So it is fitting that in that in the kingdom of heaven the beginning seems better suited to be the end and that what seems to be the end is really only but the beginning.

The Lord’s story starts many years before, but our story with the Lord starts with Him coming into His holy city, a triumphant King coming home from war. The fact that Jesus is riding into Jerusalem to die would seem to contradict this, but it doesn’t. For we are not in 1st century Palestine. And the Lord Jesus didn’t go riding into die at the end of His ministry but at the beginning. The Lord’s ministry didn’t begin when He was born of the Blessed Virgin, nor when He was about thirty years of age, but the ministry - the service of the Lord – began when He set fire to the earth on Pentecost and sent His apostles into all the world to preach the kingdom of God.

It was by His death and resurrection and ascension that He began to rule, to conquer the hearts of men and to slay the ancient dragon. The Great Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem marks the beginning of His ministry, not the end of it. So it is more fitting that it also mark the beginning of the Church Year and not the end of it. For we are being conquered by this King who reigns in mercy and grace.

Here we are being ruled by the King of kings. He rules us by His blessed ministry: the fire of the Holy Spirit by whom we cry out “Father!” He rules us by His blessed ministry: the holy apostolic doctrine that molds and shapes our life. He rules us by His blessed ministry that finds its heart and soul in the Body that gathers around the Lord who is Himself the Host and the Servant.

The Lord entered once into Jerusalem but He enters the world a thousand times ten thousand times a day through bread and wine and the word of God. He entered Jerusalem once to die for sin and rise to newness of life. But He enters the hearts of men to kill sin and to raise us in that same newness of life.

So it is fitting that the Church Year begin with what should seem to be the end. For in the kingdom of heaven the end is always the beginning and the King always reigns from in humility. The Lord’s story may have start many years before, but our story with the Lord starts with Him coming into His holy city. For we are nothing more than the crowd that was conquered that day at the gates of Jerusalem; conquered by the King that enters humbly yet enters to save men from death and hell. We are nothing more than the crowd that continues to receive the Lord with shouts of “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” We are but those who lay down our garments – those things we thought covered our sin and shame, what Adam and Eve thought to do with fig leaves we think to do with our excuses and our pride. Adam and Eve thought to find righteousness in fig leaves, we think to find righteousness in our own piety, goodness, and politeness. But just as the Lord did away with their fig leaves and provided a true cover, so we lay down our garments of pride and false humility and are clothed with the Pride of Jacob and the true humility of the Lord Jesus. For the Lord is our righteousness.

The Church has always prayed, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” So let us forever pray with her that we may be found among her, waiting for Him to come not only in future days, but today, tomorrow, and every day. And let us here be conquered by the conquering King of kings.

+ In Nomine Iesu +