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Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year A – Homily

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year A
Matthew 21:1-11
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Philippians 2:6-11
Matthew 26:14-27:66
April 9, 2017

Our opening blessing of the palms begins the holiest time of the year for us.  Our name for this week is very simple, Holy Week. What we celebrate this week is the culmination of the entire story of Salvation History, the story of how God has always cared for his people.  What God does this week, he does for all his people, including us.

We start this week in the same way Jesus and his disciples started the week, with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  Jesus knows what is coming in his Passion but he still chooses to enter Jerusalem.  He knows Judas will betray him.  He knows Peter will deny him three times.  Still he accepts what must happen for our salvation.

He receives a royal welcome with people spreading their cloaks out and waving palms.  There is one piece different from the normal royal entry.  Generally, the arriving king would be seated on a great horse as a sign of leadership and strength in battle.  Jesus doesn’t enter on a horse but rather a donkey, a sign of Jesus’ humility, a sign of a different kind of leader.  This also fulfills a prophecy given through Zechariah.  This week we see many prophecies fulfilled.  This serves to tell us that all that happens fits what God has foretold.

The Jews were awaiting a great earthly king to defeat the Romans but Jesus is a different type of Messiah.  Jesus is not a warrior but a suffering servant as Isaiah wrote about.

Jesus did not come seeking glory for himself.  He was, as Paul writes, “in the form of God” and “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at.”  So, “he emptied himself” to become like us.  In everything Jesus does he is humble and obedient.”

As we proceed through the events of this week, it can be hard to take.  Even Jesus, while completely obedient to the Father, prayed three times “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will but as you will.”

Every time we celebrate Mass we celebrate the Eucharist that Jesus gives us at the Last Supper.  Every time we celebrate Mass we are celebrating the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the Cross.  Every time we celebrate Mass, we celebrate the new life that Jesus shows us in the Resurrection but this week we celebrate all of this very much in the context of how Jesus experienced “Holy Week.”

Today in reading of the Passion we hear much of what happened to Jesus in his final week but to come each day for the Triduum later this week brings it to the forefront.  Today we hear that Jesus is laid in the tomb but that is not the end of the story.

Today we hear how Jesus gives us the Eucharist but on Thursday we celebrate in context with the washing of the feet and reflecting on what it means to follow Jesus.

On Good Friday we again hear of Jesus’ Passion and how he dies for us on the Cross.  To help us think more deeply about this, on Good Friday, we will all come forth and venerate the Cross.  We also have Spanish stations and meditation at noon and the Living Stations done in English by our youth at 7:00 p.m. on Good Friday to help us reflect on what Jesus went through for us.

Then, the story goes to the next step.  Jesus does not remain in the tomb but for that you have to come back.

I want to encourage you to spend some time this week thinking about what this week really means for us.  This week was a very difficult week for Jesus.  How could the Messiah be crucified?

Yet, it is at his death on the Cross that the centurion says “Truly, this was the Son of God!

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