palm sunday 4Homily for Mass – Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord (Year C)

(Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Park Ridge: 8am;  Saint Catherine’s Church, Jimboomba: 5.30pm)

24 March 2013

(Readings: Lk 19:28-40;  Is 50:4-7;  Ps 22;  Philippians 2:6-11;  Lk 22:14-23:56)

 

Today’s Liturgy is a little different than normal, and that signals that we are entering into a week that is different than normal.  Holy Week is a special time of grace when we return to the central mysteries of our faith: the heart of what we believe, and what we’re about as Christians.

This week we’re called to draw close to Jesus, and re-live with him the final days and hours of his earthly life.  We’re always called to be close to Jesus, but this week is different.  As the Liturgy unfolds almost in slow motion over Holy Thursday, Good Friday and ultimately Easter Sunday, we reflect not just on historical events but on our life today as disciples of Jesus.

Like the disciples of old we follow Jesus in all our weakness and imperfection.  We may fall asleep in the garden instead of keeping vigil.  We may strike out clumsily “with a sword” and miss the real foe.  We might follow at a distance, and even pretend that we don’t know Jesus.  Maybe we will only join him at the last moment. (1)

In journeying with Jesus through his final days, we see important reminders about who he is, why he came among us, and what we are to do in response.  When we refer to Jesus’ “passion,” that word comes from a Latin word meaning “I suffer, to suffer.”  We know that passion in English also refers to “enthusiastic love,” that which drives a person or even consumes them.  What Jesus suffers was motivated by a “double passion:” his love for God his Father, to whom he was obedient unto death, and his love for us whom he wants to save. (2)

The first and second readings today shed light on the inner attitude of Christ.  Isaiah foreshadows the suffering of God’s servant, but shows his determination to undergo all that will happen, and his trust in the God who is his help.  Saint Paul shows the humility of the son of God, who set aside equality with God and embraced the human condition totally, even to accepting death.

In the passion of Saint Luke we see some touching moments of Jesus’ mission of salvation.  Even in the midst of his suffereing and degredation, he reaches out and comforts the women of Jerusalem.  In the midst of the agony of the cross, he welcomes one of the criminals crucified with him who turned to him in repentance, promising to share paradise with him today. (3)

On the Cross, Jesus shows a profound understanding of human frailty, praying for God’s forgiveness for faults committed out of ignorant human weakness. (3)

As we journey with Jesus in these days, we are invited to see that our lives are a sharing in his life, death, and resurrection.  All of us, in differing ways, live some share of Jesus’ passion.  As we live our lives then, we’re called to grow in the attitudes of Christ, and to live with the same love of God the Father that Jesus shows, the same humility and obedience.

We’re also called to grow in that same love he had for others, to have in ourselves that same desire that Jesus had that all people would be saved and come to share fully the life of God.  In living Holy Week, as we look to Jesus and reflect on our own lives, we should be moved to realize that we share in the ongoing passion of humankind.

We are called to see that Christ’s passion continues to unfold in the events of our world, and just as we journey with Jesus in Holy Week, all the time we are called to embrace and lighten the burden of Christ whose passion continues to be experienced in the hungry, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the lonely, and the outcast. (4)

 

References:

(1) The Word Among us, 24 March 2013.

(2) 365 Days with the Lord: Liturgical Biblical Diary 2013.

(3) Archbishop Terence Prendergast, SJ, Living God’s Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year C.

(4) Bishop David Walker, Lectio Divina: Praying the Scriptures in Lent, Year C, 2013.