Palm Sunday

For this week’s homily please watch the video below.

I like the way Andrew of Crete describes Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem today as his enters the “dark regions” of our fallen world where so much evil dwells, especially sin and death. “Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches” strewn before the Lord, the saint tells us, and humbly take part in his journey, with the children who cried out: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Office of Readings, Palm Sunday)

Why not take the palm blessed in church today and put it on a cross in your homes as your symbolic welcome of this great mystery.

We’re not spectators in this story. Instead, we are invited into it. Our involvement is more than just listening or going  to church services. Our involvement should change us.

Think of those who were changed that day by their experience of the passion of Christ. There was Simon of Cyrene, who came from work in the fields hardly expecting to be caught up in a stranger’s tragedy. Yet, he saw God in the suffering man whose cross he helped bear. Can we, who often enough ignore the sufferings of others, become more aware of what others are going through and walk at their side? If we do, we heard this story.

There was the thief crucified with Jesus. He’s called a “revolutionary” in one of a translations today. How about a “terrorist,” or any term that describes the lowlife of society. He cried out in the dark for forgiveness and was heard. Can we believe in a God so merciful that he can forgive us, that he can forgive anybody, caught in a life of failure and sin? 

This is a story meant to give hope to those who don’t believe they are any good at all. If we can believe in mercy so great, then we have heard this story. 

There was Joseph of Aramithea who bravely goes to the powerful Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus to bury it. Before this he seems a wishy-washy religious leader. If we find ourselves less cowardly in speaking up to the powerful of our own world, then we have heard this story. 

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” How easily we fall into believing our world forsaken, that God is nowhere near us! If we can believe God’s care never fails, not matter what, then we have heard this story.

Mary, his mother, and the holy women, the disciple John, and yes, Peter and others who deserted him were there that day. What they experienced then, they never forgot. They remembered the raw suffering, the cruel death, the unmeasured sadness. But they saw God’s love in the One who was arrested and condemned, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and who rose again on the third day. 

If we too are touched by the overwhelming love of God we see here, then we have heard this story.

Finally, this story does not end in a tomb. Death itself, the mystery we all face, is conquered when Jesus rises from the dead. When we hope we will live in him who died and rose again, we have heard this story.

Listen to this story this holy week. The Lord speaks  “with a well-trained tongue, a word to the weary that will rouse them.”

This week God speaks. Let’s listen.

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