The Hero makes His Entrance
In every movie, there is usually a moment where the “hero” makes his entrance. It’s the first time that the main character appears on screen, and you usually can tell right away that the story will revolve around this person. I put the word “hero” in quotes, because many times, the main character is the hero almost by default. We tend to think of heroes as being good and virtuous, but too often, the heroes in movies are deeply flawed, and straddle the line between good and bad. They often fall well short of having clear ethical and moral guidelines. Hollywood refers to this character as the “antihero.” We root for this character not because he or she is good in and of themselves, but because everyone else is really, really bad. What is unfortunate about this is that we, the viewer, are left not having a character that we can strive to be like. We are left without having a character that we can look up to as a model of goodness and purity.
In the Divine Liturgy, the Hero makes not one but two entrances. The first entrance, called the Little Entrance, happens when the priest, led by the altar servers carrying their candles, comes through the Deacon’s door into the center of the Church holding the book of the Gospels. The Hero in this case, of course, is Jesus Christ—the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity, the Incarnate
Word of God. His story is found within those four books that make up the Gospel-Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Unlike the anti-hero found in the movies, when we view Jesus as our Hero, we have a Hero that we don’t have to second-guess. He is the Hero we can and should strive to be like. He is loving, forgiving, kind and cares for all. With Christ, there is a clear distinction between good and evil; between the truth and what is false; between light and darkness. Christ is Good. He is Truth. He is the Light of the World.
Contained within that Holy Gospel, we hear the ultimate story of good triumphing over evil. Through Christ’s Passion, death and Resurrection, the power of death is destroyed. We have the path set before us for our own eternal Salvation. All we have to do is look to our Hero, Jesus Christ, and follow His example.
DID YOU KNOW?: The Divine Liturgy developed over a long period of time. In the early Church, the Gospel was often kept in a separate place from the Church itself. At the time of the little entrance, the Gospel would be brought into the Church. It was at this time that the Bishop of the local Church also made his entrance. This is why the Gospel is still brought into the center of the Church for the little entrance. In fact, if you’ve ever seen His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas celebrate a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, you will notice the he is in the center of the Church at the beginning of the Liturgy, and does not enter the sanctuary until the Little Entrance. This also reflects the Liturgy of the early Church.