Homily for Palm Sunday A, B and C23 Mar 2018, by Sermons in
Today marks the beginning of the holy week, the height of Lenten season. This week is the week of betrayal and tragedy, yet it remains a holy week. The week the Passover lamb will be sacrificed just as it was slaughtered in Egypt to liberate the people of Israel from the power of Pharaoh. In Egypt, the Israelites slaughtered animals and marked their doorposts with the blood, but this week we commemorate the “slaughtering” of Jesus Christ the Lamb of God and how his blood marked our souls for salvation. It is a week of sorrowful passion, a week of tragedy, yet a week we were given the right to become Sons and Daughters of the highest God.
The reading of the passion of Jesus Christ is enough homily for today; I would have preferred we all sit and meditate on what he had to go through to save us from the power of sin and death. However, it is also important I say a few words.
We sometimes focus on the Divinity of Jesus to the point of forgetting the truthfulness of the incarnation; he took flesh to undergo the agony. Many Jews saw nothing Divine in Jesus; he was a mere political liberator; he was a mere mortal like us all in their eyes. We, too, are tempted to make a similar mistake, to go the other extreme by seeing nothing human in Jesus; therefore, Peter believes he cannot die.
The passion of Jesus reminds us today that Jesus is God who took flesh to set us free; he humbled himself to share in our humanity, to make us share in His Divinity.
In the proclaimed gospel before the procession with palm branches into the Church, we see Jesus send two of his disciples ahead to untie a particular colt that no one has yet ridden. Jesus demanded that the colt be brought to him. Tell the owner of the colt that the master needs it, says the Lord. And that is what the holy week is all about, to untie us from the grip of Satan through his own death and resurrection.
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, and he knew he was going to die, yet he entered Jerusalem amidst great jubilation. The people came out in their numbers; they carried palm branches in their hands and praised Jesus. They all cried out: Blessings on the king who comes, in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven! They praised Jesus because they knew they would be untied, but what they were going to be untied from was what they did not get right. For them, the Messiah has come to set them free from the hands of the Roman government, from Roman oppression. But he actually came to untie us from the power of Satan and save us from eternal damnation.
When the people eventually realized that he did not come to fight a physical battle as they had thought or done what they wanted, they turned against him. In the passion narrative, we see how Jesus was betrayed and crucified. The same people that shouted “Blessings on the king who comes” shouted crucify him!
Today we all carry palm branches in our hands and shout hosanna in the highest, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Today’s actions are a challenge to remain faithful to Christ in moments of turbulence, especially when things don’t go our way. We may be tempted to shout crucify him when we feel our prayers have not answered the way we wanted it; that was what happened to many of the Jews who followed Jesus; they turned against him and shouted crucify him they found out he was not a “politician.”
Many of us may be very fast to condemn the Jews, to condemn Judas for betraying Jesus. But let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves, did we carry these same palm branches a year ago? Did we join the Church a year ago to shout blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord? And finally, did we remain with him throughout the year? The honest answer to this question will reveal that we all have betrayed him in one way or the other. But here we are again with palm branches in our hands, not because we’ve been faithful but because God is faithful. He invites us once again to renew our commitments to stay with him to praise him forever.