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Palm Sunday Evening

About the Icon

Jesus stands in the center pointing to the fig tree that has no fruit.

The Apostles, to whom Jesus is speaking, are pictured on the right.

Barren Fig Tree - People plant fig trees for figs and shade. If a fig tree is sick, the owner pays special attention to it so that it will once again yield figs and shade. If the fig tree remains sick, the owner cuts it down and replaces it with a healthy fig tree. God has planted all of us in the orchard of his Kingdom. We give our Owner shade and figs by our works of kindness and love for Him. When we are sick in sin, we stop growing in kindness and love. God in His loving-kindness tries to help us, save us and have mercy on us.

Jesus in front of Fig Tree

The Service of the Bridegroom

Introduction to Holy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday

The first part of Holy Week presents us with an array of themes based chiefly on the last day's of Jesus' earthly life. "The story of the Passion, as told and recorded by the Evangelists, is preceded by a series of incidents located in Jerusalem and a collection of parables, sayings and discourses centered on Jesus' divine sonship, the Kingdom of God, the Parousia, and Jesus' castigation of the hypocrisy and dark motives of the religious leaders."

The Orthros Services of Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is called the Service of the Bridegroom, and gets its name from the central figure in the well-known parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25.1-13). "The title Bridegroom suggests the intimacy of love. It is not without significance that the Kingdom of God is compared to a bridal feast and a bridal chamber. The Christ of the Passion is the Divine Bridegroom of the Church. The imagery connotes the final union of the Lover and the beloved. The title Bridegroom also suggest the Parousia.

Each day of Holy Week has its own particular theme. The theme of Monday (celebrated in anticipation on Palm Sunday evening) is that of the barren fig tree (Matthew 21: 18-20) which yields no fruit and is condemned. On Tuesday (celebrated Monday evening) the theme is on the vigilance of the wise virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13) who, unlike their foolish sisters, were ready when the Lord came to them. On Wednesday (celebrated Tuesday evening) the focus is on the sinful woman (Matthew 26: 6-13) who repents. Great emphasis is made in the liturgical services to compare the woman, a sinful harlot who is saved, to Judas, a chosen apostle who is lost. The one gives her wealth to Christ and kisses his feet; the other betrays Christ for money with a kiss.

Family Activities

  • Make a point to attend services with your children.
  • Make time to read the "theme" gospel lessons before coming to services, since they are not part of the Gospel reading, but only referred to during the service.
  • Speak with your children about Christ's second coming, ie. that "He will come again" as we recite in the Nicene Creed. Jesus reminds us during the first three days of Holy Week, as was done on many occasions during Lent, that we must be watchful and repent while there is still time.

The Service of the Bridegroom

Holy Monday – (Celebrated on Palm Sunday Evening)

References:

Matthew 21:18-43

Genesis chapters 37-50

Hymns:

Troparion:
Behold, the Bridegroom sets forth in the dead of night. And blessed is that servant whom he shall find on watch; unworthy the one he shall come upon lazing. See to it, soul, that sleep does not overtake you, lest you be given up to death and be shut out of the kingdom. Bestir yourself, then, and sing out: “Holy, holy, holy are You, our God; through the prayers of the Theotokos, save us.

Kathismata:
On the day at hand, like a lifesaving beacon, the Holy Passion breaks on the world. For Christ in His goodness presses on to His sufferings. Though He holds all creation in the hallow of His hand, yet He deigns to be suspended on the Cross to save humankind.

Unseen judge, how is it You have been seen in the flesh, and come to be slain by lawless men? By Your Passion You have nullified the judgement against us. And so, as with one voice, we praise the greatness and the glory of Your lordship, O Word of God.

The Kontakion:
Jacob mourned the loss of Joseph, while the noble One rode in a chariot, honored as royalty. For having spurned the enticements of the Egyptian woman, he was in turn glorified by Him who knows the hearts of men and bestows an incorruptible crown.

The Oikos:
To Jacob’s lament let us add our own, and weep with him for Joseph the wise and noble. For though enslaved in body, he kept his soul free of bondage, becoming lord of all Egypt. For God grants to those who serve Him an incorruptible crown.

Likening the fig tree to the assembly of the Hebrews, bereft of spiritual fruits, Christ withered it with a curse. May we escape such a fate.

The Exaposteilarion:
I see Your bridal chamber all bedecked, my Savior, but I have no fit garment to venture in. O Giver of Light, make radiant my soul’s attire and save me.

The Ainoi:
As the Lord approached His saving Passion, He was saying to the Apostles on the way: “You see, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered up as it is written of Him.” Come, then, minds purified, let us walk with Him, and be crucified with Him, and for His sake, die to the delights of this life; that we may also live with Him, and hear Him declare: “No longer do I go toward the earthly Jerusalem to suffer, but I go up to my Father, who is your Father, my God and your God. And I will raise you up with me to upper Jerusalem, to the Kingdom of heaven.”

Explanation

On Holy Monday the Church commemorates Joseph the Patriarch, the beloved son of Jacob. A major figure in the Old Testament, Joseph’s story is told in the final section of the Book of Genesis. (chapters 37-50). Because of his exceptional qualities and remarkable life, our patristic and liturgical tradition portrays Joseph as a prototype, or image of Christ. The story of Joseph illustrates the mystery of God’s providence, promise and redemption.

The Church also commemorates on Holy Monday, the event of the cursing of The Fig Tree (Matthew 21.18-20). “The fig tree is symbolic of Israel become barren by her failure to recognize and receive Christ and His teachings. The cursing of the fig tree is a parable in action, a symbolic gesture. Its meaning should not be lost on any one in any generation. Christ’s judgement on the faithless, unbelieving, unrepentant and unloving will be certain and decisive on the Last Day. This episode makes it clear that nominal Christianity is not only inadequate, it is also despicable and unworthy of God’s kingdom. Genuine Christian faith is dynamic and fruitful. It permeates one’s whole being and causes a change. Living, true and unadulterated faith makes the Christian conscious of the fact that he is already a citizen of heaven. Therefore, his way of thinking, feeling, acting and being must reflect this reality. Those who belong to Christ ought to live and walk in the Spirit; and the Spirit will bear fruit in them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5.22-25).

     
     
Rev. Father Peter J. Orfanakos, Parish Priest
Phone: (203) 795-1347 | E-mail: | 480 Racebrook Road - Orange, Connecticut 06477
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