"Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed and answers him from his holy heaven with mighty victories from his own right hand" (Psalm 20 v6) When Jesus entered the City of Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday he was fulfilling a prophecy written some five hundred years before his birth. The Prophet had told that he would be both victorious and triumphant as he rode humbly on a donkey. Moreover, he was to banish chariots and horses as well us the bow of war. Ultimately he was to proclaim peace to the nations so that his empire would stretch from sea to sea. Many people today would imagine that to be victorious and triumphant, our King would need a mighty army and a great show of strength. Indeed, in many areas of the world human beings still want to use force to achieve their own ends regardless of this effect on the lives of others. Our own land has experienced a great deal of bloodshed and violence especially in these past months. But to what avail? A great deal of work is needed to bring peace, justice and harmony. But then the way of Jesus is quite different. The triumph he achieved that first Holy Week and Easter did not arise from human strength, but rather from the strength that comes from God. Through his strength we can learn to triumph even when the going is rough. Far from seeking the comfortable aspects of religion we must recognize that, like the early followers of Jesus, we must take up our cross and follow him even though we are surrounded by human weapons. We too need to imitate the humble submission of Jesus to the Father in all the varied circumstances of our lives. The uplift we experience in our worship together - when we feel so close to him - must be discovered in times of frustration, sadness, and difficulties. The temptation is to close the door on him; even, at times, to think he does not care. The Cross should remind us that it is in this sign we conquer. From the Cross Jesus declared. "It is finished" (John ch. 19 v,30) He had triumphed over evil. Then, in the midst of so much chaos and confusion came the Resurrection. The world and mankind, with all its hatred and bitterness, had failed to destroy the Prince of Peace. In the days that followed Jesus reassured his disciples that he would be with them to the end of times. At this Holy Season we urge all our Christian brothers and sisters to take heart through the sufferings of Christ and work to establish his kingdom in which love, joy and peace triumph. That kingdom also requires that we re-echo more words of Jesus used before his death. "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" (Luke ch 23 v34) Needless to say, we are deeply concerned for the hungry; the homeless and those who are unemployed. We share your concern for the injured - many of whom will need a great deal of medical care well in to the future - and we offer our condolences to all who have been bereaved. All we want for each one of you is that you may "know Christ and the power of his Resurrection". (Philippians ch.3 v10).
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