Homily: Palm Sunday, 2016

Sacred Heart Cathedral
20th March, 2016

Isa 50:4-7; Ps 22:8-24; Phil 2:6-11; Phil 2:8-9; Luke 22:14-23:56

Today we are commencing Holy Week, which opens up for us a pathway to Easter. The passion reading proclaims the mercy of God. However, the Liturgy is not just about readings, it is for all of us, a lived experience. We can see easily in today’s Gospel that the story of the suffering and death of Jesus that we heard in the Passion is basically a story of love – God’s love for us. No day should pass that we should not remember the love God has for us.

Many people are willing to serve others if it does not cost them anything. But if there is a price to pay, they suddenly lose interest. With the example of Jesus read in St Paul’s letter to the Philippians ‘Jesus became obedient unto death, death on the cross’; we see that when love is the motive, sacrifice is never measured. Perhaps we could ask ourselves: Is it costing me anything to be a Christian?

Love is our identity, but love demands sacrifice. Where there is no sacrifice, there can hardly be any genuine love. This is because it is love that made us Christians. It cost Jesus his life for our sake. The celebration of the Paschal Mystery this week can only be meaningful if we show genuine love for God and for one another.

The Passion of Jesus moves us because we are reminded that it was not just the chief priests and it was not just the cruel Roman soldiers who brought this suffering on Jesus; it was also our sins that inflicted this suffering on Jesus.

So then, the account of the Passion of Jesus moves us to turn from sin, to leave it behind. That is why we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Holy Week. In Reconciliation we turn to Jesus again and ask for his mercy. And through the Passion of Jesus we receive forgiveness, “through his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus chose to return to where he knew that the crowd which welcomed him with palms, would turn against him just as quickly and abandon him. Remember, St Peter too turned from Jesus to save himself. While he wept bitterly for his sin, he did not despair as Judas had done, and he made a choice to put his trust in the mercy of Jesus. This was a defining moment in St Peter’s life.

As followers of Jesus, like Peter, we can fall, but this does not mean all is lost. When we are hurt by things in our own life and hurt by what we see happening in the world around us and need answers, healing and reassurance - in those moments, let us turn to the Lord and see his merciful gaze upon us.

Practically everyone has known the taste of Palm Sunday, the sweetness of success and popularity, and nearly all of us have tasted the bitterness of Good Friday, of failure and rejection.  

What saves us from an endless round of ups and downs, what frees us from the tyranny of events over which we have no control is our commitment to press forward in obedience to God - it is trust in God's love to bring about Easter morning, - knowing that the meaning of life is to be found in the knowledge and love of God, - and in sharing that knowledge and love with those who accompany us on the way.

During the week ahead, let us resolve to meditate on the Passion of Jesus; let it become a source of healing for us also. Do not waste this week. Spend this week with Jesus meditating on his Passion. Come to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday and the triumph of the resurrection at Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.

Let us pray for mercy: ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ and we too will hear Jesus say “this day you will be with me in paradise’. It is never too late to find the mercy of God.