Homily for March 29

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Homily for Palm Sunday
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Although it's at the very heart of our faith,
the story of the suffering and death of Jesus
is recounted in its entirety only twice a year,
and then in the same week:
on Palm Sunday and on Good Friday.

We encounter Jesus in this story
as in no other passage from the gospels.
Is he ever closer to us in our humanity:
than in his being betrayed, rejected and abandoned?
than in his physical and emotional suffering;
than in the naked loneliness of his last hours? 
than in the prayer he speaks to his Father
from the depths of his soul…  
from the height of the Cross?
than in his death: his final surrender to mortality?

If we do not come to meet Jesus in his suffering,
how can we hope to recognize him
when he comes to meet us in ours?

If we do not come to meet Jesus in his suffering,
how can we hope to recognize him
when he comes to meet us in ours?

Listen again to some of Jesus’ own words,
where he bares his heart to us and invites us to enter it. 

I say to you, one of you will betray me...

Take and eat: this is my body, given for you…
Take and drink: this is my blood, poured out for you…

You will deny me three times...

My soul is sorrowful even to death:
watch with me for an hour…

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak...

My God, my God: why have you forsaken me?

And recall the responses
of those who were with Jesus in those last hours,
those whose words and deeds 
might sometimes be our own. 

Betray you, Lord?  Certainly not me!

I do not know the man.
A cock crowed…
Peter went out and wept.

Crucify him! Crucify him!

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd…

They crowned him with thorns,
mocked him, stripped him,
struck him, spat upon him…

Truly this man was the Son of God! 

Any of these words, these phrases, these images
would be hearty food for prayer and reflection 
in the week ahead.

Which of these words
(or others you heard in the scriptures today)
draw you closer to the humanity of Jesus
and thus to the doorway to his divinity?

We have entered the Week we call Holy
when Christians around the world will pause
to remember, to celebrate and to meet Jesus
in his suffering, in his dying and in his rising.

May the story of his Passion 
refresh and restore our faith
in his love poured out so generously for us.

May the words and sacrifice of Jesus, 
embedded in our hearts,
lead us to meet him in the peace and the joy of Easter.


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