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

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year C
First Gospel – Luke 19:28-40
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 (2a)
Philippians 2:6-11
Luke 22:14-23:56
April 14, 2019

Today we mark the beginning of Holy Week.  We began our Mass today by hearing the gospel story of Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem as He began the first Holy Week.

He received a royal welcome with cloaks laid out on the road and the crowds proclaiming, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They eagerly welcomed him into Jerusalem.

Things changed during the course of the week.  By the end of the Passion Gospel that we just listened to Jesus, had been crucified and laid in the tomb. 

The people went from proclaiming, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord” to shouting, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!” 

What changed?

To begin, not everyone was eager to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem.  There were some of the Pharisees who told Jesus He should rebuke his disciples for welcoming Jesus as a king.  They did not believe Jesus was a king and led the persecution against him.

To understand what changed during Jesus’ final week, we should take a look at the readings we heard today in between the two gospels.  In Isaiah we hear the Suffering Servant say, “I gave my back to those who beat me.”  In the psalm we see similar prophecies.  The Passion of Jesus fulfills many prophecies like these.  The hour has come.

To give his life for us, Jesus had to first, as Paul writes in Philippians, empty himself, humbling himself, “becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Pilate and the Romans often get blamed for crucifying Jesus.  Yet, in Luke’s Passion, we hear Pilate say he found Jesus not guilty three times. 

It is Peter that denies Jesus three times. 

How many times have we sinned?  How many times have we denied Jesus?  This is what Jesus died for.

We need to be like the “good criminal” who said to the criminal who ridiculed Jesus, “We have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”  The good criminal says to Jesus, “remember me when you come into your kingdom” to which Jesus responds, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  The good criminal is good because he repents.  Because he repents, Jesus forgives him and welcomes him into his kingdom.”

Jesus dies for our sins.  This was the reason for his Crucifixion.  He was not crucified because of the crowds calling out, “Crucify him!”  He was crucified because it was the Father’s Will.  It was not easy for him.  In the garden, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

It is not always easy to do God’s will.  God will give us the grace we need.  When we fall short, He will forgive us if we give our lives to him, praying as Jesus did, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

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