Palm Sunday (Fr. Vinner)
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Church celebrates today as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday Today’s liturgy combines contrasting moments of glory (“Hosanna”) and suffering (“Crucify him”) – the royal welcome given to Jesus by his followers and the drama of his unjust trial culminating in his crucifixion. Holy Week challenges us to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation, to appreciate gratefully the price Jesus paid for our salvation, and to return God’s love for us (expressed through the suffering and death of Jesus), by loving others. The meditation on these Paschal mysteries should enable us to do our own dying to sin and rising with Jesus, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption. Proper participation in the Holy Week liturgy will also deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith, and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus.
Today’s first reading, found in the prophecy of Isaiah, is called the third Servant Song. Jesus saw aspects of his own life and mission foreshadowed in the Servant Songs. The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 22) expresses Jesus’ agony on the Cross and His unfailing trust in His Heavenly Father. The second reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of who Jesus is, and of how his mission saves us from sin and death. The first part of today’s Gospel (Lk 19:28-40) describes the royal reception which Jesus received from his admirers. They paraded with him for a distance of two miles, from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem. In the second part of today’s Gospel (Lk 22:14—23:56), we listen to the Passion of Christ according to Luke. We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the story like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience and condemned Jesus to death on the cross, Herod who ridiculed Jesus and the leaders of the people who preserved their positions by getting rid of Jesus. The reading reminds us that Jesus died for our sins.
# Let us try to answer five questions today: 1) Does Jesus weep over my sinful soul as he wept over Jerusalem at the beginning of his Palm Sunday procession? 2) Am I a barren fig tree? God expects me to produce fruits of holiness, purity, justice, humility, obedience, charity, and forgiveness. Do I? Or do I continue to produce bitter fruits of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, jealousy and selfishness? 3) Will Jesus have to cleanse my heart with his whip? Jesus cannot tolerate the desecration of the temple of his Holy Spirit in me by my addiction to uncharitable, unjust and impure thoughts words and deeds; neither is Jesus pleased by my calculation of loss and gain in my relationship with God. 4) Do I welcome Jesus into my heart? Am I ready to surrender my life to him during this Holy Week and welcome him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Savior? The palms should remind us that Christ is our King and the true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in life. 5) Am I like the humble donkey that carried Jesus? Let us carry and radiate Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness and sacrificial service to our families, and communities.
# “Why do you have that palm branch, dad?” Little Johnny was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from Church with his mother. His father returned from Church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked why. His father explained, “You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor him; so we got palm branches today.” “Aw, shucks,” grumbled Little Johnny. “The one Sunday I can’t go to Church, and Jesus shows up!”