14 April 2019Palm Sunday

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Palm Sunday

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion: Between Heaven and Earth
(This is a brief homily for after the reading of the Passion)

And they raised Him up on a cross. He was between heaven and earth. On the ground, yet raised up to the sky. He was with His People, with Us, but He was also with His Father.

People had carried palms and sang "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." But some, perhaps most, were looking for a military leader called by God like Joshua, or Gideon, or even Samson. Most could not understand how Jesus could be lifted up on a cross. Many were disillusioned. He was not the Messiah they thought He would be. And they were right. Jesus was a military leader of a spiritual army, not a physical army. Most people could not understand this.

But there were some of the people who did understand why Jesus was lifted up. They realized that He had come to unite heaven to earth and, more to the point, earth to heaven. They realized that God's love could not be explained. "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM HE," the Lord said in John 8:28. We can't explain how much our God loves us. There are no words, no concepts that adequately express His Love. It is beyond comprehension. God's love can only be experienced. We experience His Love when we come to the realization that He did this for us, for all of us and for each of us.

"Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom," the good thief whom we call Dismis prayed. And Jesus saw his faith. This man was concerned about the spiritual not the physical. "Today, you will be with me in paradise," the Lord responded. You will be part of the spiritual Kingdom. Dismis experienced Mercy.

And, so, we begin Holy Week. Our focus is on the Cross, where the Lord reigned suspended between heaven and earth. We call out to Him, "Remember me Lord when you come into your Kingdom."

And He calls out to us, "Join me. Join me in bringing heaven to earth and earth to heaven. Provide the experience of God's love to others by sacrificing yourselves for them. Join me," the Lord calls out. "Join me in the sacrifice of the Cross. Join me in the Triumph of the Cross."

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
Palm Sunday
The Cross Confronts Us
(April 14, 2019)

Bottom line: Ultimately the cross confronts each one of us. After all, "The Cross is the first letter of God's alphabet and it is written in the life of each person".

Once I asked some children if they know the first letter of the alphabet. They all responded "A."

Then I asked, "But do you know what's the first letter of God's alphabet?" After a number of guesses, I told them, "It is the cross." Pope St. John Paul said, "The Cross is the first letter of God's alphabet and it is written in the life of each person."

No one can escape the cross but you can choose how you respond. As we see today, one man responds by mockery, "Are you not the Christ?" The Messiah? "Save yourself and us." This thief knows how to see through people - to play the "gotcha" game: You're the messiah? Don't make me laugh.

It's easy to see through people - to point out their evident inconsistencies. The hard thing is to actually see the other person. This, the good thief does. It begins with humility. "We have been condemned justly." From there he recognizes it's not about me; it's about Jesus. "Jesus, remember me."

The good thief embraces the cross. For sure, it means shame and suffering. Still, the cross contains everything we need: forgiveness, healing, hope, humility. To reject the cross results in self-exultation, rage and finally, despair.

You can run, but you can't hide. Many have convinced themselves that science has disproved God's existence. It does no such thing. In the end you and I face a choice. As author Leon Bloy says, "Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil." That may sound extreme but in the first homily after election, Pope Francis uses the same quote, "Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil." We have to choose

That choice involves the cross. Ultimately the cross confronts each one of us. After all, "The Cross is the first letter of God's alphabet and it is written in the life of each person". Amen.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
Palm Sunday

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday

We have just had the very long reading from St Luke’s account of the Passion of Christ and on Good Friday we will hear the version to be found in St John’s Gospel. Both are very moving and give us an enormous amount of material for meditation. It would be good to pray and think about Christ’s Passion very often in the coming week.

However, today is Palm Sunday so perhaps we should take a look at the Gospel which was read at the beginning of mass as we started the procession. It is the story of how Our Lord entered the Holy City of Jerusalem in order to face his suffering and death.

You will see from the text that Jesus is completely in charge of the situation; he knows what he wants to achieve on that important day and although there is no hint that he has made any arrangements in advance he seems to know what will happen. This is evident from the account of the fetching of the donkey; he knows exactly what his disciples will find and who they will meet.

What is being brought about is the formal entry of the Messiah in to his Holy City. He cannot do this on foot as any other pilgrim would normally do. No, he has to enter the city riding on a donkey as would be proper for a king. But you will notice that Jesus is somehow also well aware that this is no ordinary donkey but specifically one on which no one has sat. That means this animal is undefiled which is appropriate for a Messiah. Actually, this is the only occasion on which Jesus is described as having ridden an animal; throughout his ministry he only ever went on foot.

One oddity, though, is that this donkey wouldn’t have been trained and they are notoriously stubborn animals; however, this particular beast seems to be docile enough since there is no mention of any difficulty. Perhaps, as with the other characters in the story, it is willingly playing its part in the great drama that is unfolding on that auspicious day.

It is not only the donkey which is docile on that extraordinary day, so are its owners who meekly give it up to the disciples simply because they say, as they have been instructed, 'The Lord has need of it.'After Jesus mounts the animal the disciples spread their cloaks on the road for him to ride over. This is the sort of thing that the people would do when one of the ancient kings entered the city so it is appropriate when this entry to the city is by the Messiah himself. The action of spreading a cloak on the ground for a king to ride over is an acknowledgement of submission to his rule. The clothes represent the person whom the king has dominion over.

The geography is also important. Bethany and Bethphage are to the east of Jerusalem and he approaches the city by way of Mount Olivet, a place that has been long associated with the coming of the Messiah.

We are told that there was a multitude of disciples present on that day. It must have been that Jesus had sent word for all his followers to turn up for the occasion. Also, there must have been many onlookers who came for the event and together with the disciples these wave palms and joyfully cry out 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'It must have been quite an occasion.

Inevitably though, there are some Pharisees there who feel that things are out of control and they instruct Jesus to rebuke his followers. You will notice that they do not refer to him as a king or as a Messiah or even with the title Lord which he has used of himself. They address him as teacher, a much lesser distinction. It appears that they are well aware of what Jesus is doing and what this solemn entry into Jerusalem might mean.

But Jesus has none of their protestations. He says, 'If these were silent the very stones would cry out.'Jesus knows precisely what he is doing, he alone understands the full significance of the occasion. He has alluded to himself as the Messiah on many previous occasions during his public ministry, if mostly in veiled terms; but this is the day when his identity is fully realised. Now there is no mistake, he enters Jerusalem as a king, as a Messiah, as a Saviour.

We join with those followers of his and we too cry out with joy in our hearts, 'Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’
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