Palm Sunday

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/04/07 at 12:00 AM
  • Today is Palm Sunday. At the beginning of Mass we heard St. Luke’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem amidst a flurry of praise, and we recalled how the Hebrew people welcomed Jesus as a king with palms. No doubt it was a glorious sight.
  • But in the liturgical calendar since Vatican II, today is also called Passion Sunday because we also call to mind that this same Jesus, whom we welcomed into the Jerusalem of our hearts today, will this week be unjustly delivered up to wicked men, suffer unspeakable humiliations, and die a shameful death.
  • Indeed, more than any other day or feast of the year, Palm Sunday – Passion Sunday shows forth the absolute fickleness of human nature.
  • At one moment we find ourselves waving palms and proclaiming: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” And shortly thereafter we yell “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” all in response to the meek and humble Jesus, who is both victim and priest.
  • This feast reminds us that mankind is capable of great love and devotion, as well as great evil. Thus, Palm Sunday acts as a sort of warning to us as we enter into Holy Week and the great Paschal Mystery of our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection unfolds before us.
  • This week we will see the veil that stands between God and man, between heaven and earth, pulled back: revealing for us not only that there is indeed a god, but that the God we worship is a God who loves us so much that He is willing to pay any price to save us.
  • The events of this week will show us quite clearly that the God that we worship is a God who is willing to suffer out of love for us. He is the mightiest of kings, but a king that is willing to be not only the servant of all, but also the victim for all our sins.
  • As such today’s liturgy implicitly points out that these events that form the centerpiece of our salvation history demand that we make a decision.
  • The decision the events of this week demand of us is this: how will I respond to this God? And even more concretely, what kind of Catholic am I going to be? Am I going to be one who truly loves Christ and His Church, or one who crucifies Him and dishonors the Church?
  • At the heart of these questions are the issues of personal integrity, charity, and a willingness to submit obediently to our Lord and His Church.
  • Sadly, this past week has given us many examples of Catholics who, like Judas, have not only failed to live up to the dictates of our faith, but who – in very public fashion – have turned away from our faith, and consequently from God.
  • If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make some observations about the recent health care debate in our country and the various Catholic congressional leaders who have pushed this bill through.
  • While I don’t normally like to speak about politics from the pulpit, this issue is too important to ignore. Moreover, there’s been a lot of confusion amongst Catholics since there have been disparate voices speaking on behalf of the Church.
  • Sadly, despite the Executive Order signed by the president, our new health care law opens up the very real possibility that our tax dollars will be used to fund the most heinous of sins: abortion, making the entire American people cooperators with grave evil.
  • To be sure, this new law has many positive elements that the Church can support. Certainly the Catholic Church affirms the right of all people to have access to health care, and the Church certainly affirms laws that make provisions for the poor.
  • But let’s be clear: while the Church certainly supports these elements of the new law, never will the Church endorse any bill that could provide federal money to pay for abortion. The ends never justify the means.
  • To this end, pro-life commentators and our Catholic bishops agree that the Executive Order signed by President Obama does not solve the many problems with the law, which is why the bishops do not see this law as a real solution to the problem of health care in this country.
  • The fact that this health care overhaul was supported by several Catholic legislators, and lobbied for by the Catholic Health Association and several orders of women religious, against the expressed desires of the bishops of the United States, is truly scandalous.
  • I bring up this matter because these legislators and the other folks who have disobeyed the bishops mirror those people in Jesus’ day that welcomed Him with hosannas on Sunday but cried for His execution on Friday.
  • They profess to be Catholic, but they have failed to be true to their faith, even when given direction by their bishops, who are the primary teachers of the faith
  • Worse yet, not only have they failed to stand by Christ and His Church, but like Judas, they have chosen to work actively against Christ and His Church.
  • Yet, while we can judge their actions as wrong, we cannot judge their hearts. But whatever their hidden reasons for doing what they’ve done, whether it be ignorance, cowardice, pride, or greed, I do know that I, for one, do not want to be like them.
  • Indeed, my brothers and sisters, we cannot allow ourselves to be Catholic in name only. There are enough lukewarm Catholics in the world. If we are going to profess the Catholic faith, we must learn to live it.
  • This week we will be challenged by the story of our Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection to live our faith with integrity, true charity, and obedience. We will see a wide variety of responses from the various people who were with Jesus. Which role are we going to take?
  • Will we be like the apostles in the Garden, asleep and oblivious to Jesus’ pain and suffering, and more concerned with our own comfort?
  • Or will we be like Judas, willing to sell out our Lord in favor of another god – like money, power, lust or social status?
  • Will we be like Peter, denying Jesus through our sinfulness even though we promised to be faithful to Him?
  • Will we be like Pilate, knowing the truth about Christ and His Church, but too scared or weak to do the right thing?
  • Or can we be like Simon, carrying Jesus’ cross with Him up the steep hill of Calvary?
  • Can we be like the Good Thief, conscious of our sinfulness and accepting any punishmentcoming our way, but repentant and desirous of Heaven?
  • Can we be like John, faithfully following Jesus all the way up Calvary, accepting Hissorrowful Mother into his heart, and staying with Him until death?
  • My brothers and sisters, our broken human nature may tend toward fickleness at times, butwe cannot allow ourselves to be fickle when it comes to Jesus and our Catholic faith. Do notbe scared to live your Catholic faith with integrity.
  • Being a Catholic in our world is not always easy, but be strong and let your hearts take courage, for this week will show us that those who stand with the Lord will ultimately share in His victory.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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