Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: 2 Brief Talks
1) Homily for the Procession–given after the proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem,
Emotions or Sacrificial Love?
A number of years ago, we witnessed the jubilant reaction of the people of Iraq at the fall of the Hassan regime. Perhaps you might remember that many of the people who were celebrating were waving palm branches. This ancient form of expressing joy has survived the ages. However, you might also remember that within a day, joy was replaced by looting and anarchy. The waving of palms was merely an emotional expression. Many of the people were not then, and many still are not now ready to commit to a stable way of life. That demands personal sacrifice.
The people who greeted Jesus also made an emotional statement of joy. They welcomed the Messiah, the deliverer from their enemies. But they were not ready to commit to His new way of life. They wanted a Messiah that they could cheer, not one who would say “Follow me,” and then die on a cross. They wanted to cheer a liberator, but not take part in the ultimate liberation, freedom from sin.
We have to be careful that our reaction to religion does not follow this same course. Following Jesus must be infinitely more than the occasional emotional high. Following Jesus demands a transformation of our lives by his life.
As we begin this holiest of weeks, we cannot be satisfied with waving palms. Instead we seek the grace of commitment, commitment to love, commitment to sacrifice, commitment to the cross, commitment to Christ.
2) Homily after the Proclamation of the Passion from the Gospel of Mark
This is the Son of God
A man with leprosy comes before Jesus and is healed. Jesus tells him "See that you say nothing to anyone about this."
A deaf man comes to the Lord. Jesus says "Ephphathat, Be Opened" and the man hears. Then Jesus tells him to say nothing to anyone.
A blind man has his sight returned, and, similarly, Jesus says to him, "Keep this quiet--don't even enter the villages."
Jesus dies on the Cross, a pagan, a Roman centurion now makes the announcement: "Surely this is the Son of God."
To understand who Jesus is, we have to stand under the Cross. To recognize how much God loves us, we have to realize the extent of his suffering for us. To realize that we are his followers, we have to join Him on the Cross.
Love gives joy, but this joy can result in pain. Love means giving, but this gift can result in suffering as we say no to our own desires for the sake of the one whom we love. Love gives life. The Lord loves us so much that we receive his life. As we begin this Holy Week we pray that we might have the courage to follow Christ in embracing our own crosses. May we make real the cross of Christ in the world by giving ourselves to others in love.