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

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, Year B
Gospel for Blessing of the Palms – Mark 11:1-10
Isaiah 50:4-7
Philippians 2:6-11
Mark 14:1-15:47
March 29, 2015

Why did it have to happen this way?

Jesus’ final week started out with a grand entrance to Jerusalem.  He sends His disciples ahead to make preparations for the Passover and they find everything just as He describes.

As He enters Jerusalem, He is given a royal welcome with cloaks draped and palms waving, a glorious welcome.

But there are those who plot against Jesus…..

Even though Jesus has told His disciples about His coming passion, the people do not realize what it is about to happen.  When the woman anoints Jesus, people criticize her for wasting the expensive oil but Jesus praises her for anointing Him with His death to come.

Then we hear how Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, will betray Him, from royal welcome to betrayal.  Jesus actually tells the Apostles that He knows one of them will betray Him.  They are distressed.

He tells them they will have their faith shaken.  When we are in distress we turn to Jesus in faith for help, not to be told our faith will be shaken.

Peter responds by saying his faith will never be shaken.  Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Him three times.  Peter says no way but Jesus is right.

When is our faith shaken?

After celebrating the Passover, Jesus goes off to pray and takes Peter, James, and John with Him.  As He goes to pray, He tells them to keep watch.  Do we keep vigilant for the Lord?  On Thursday, we will celebrate the Last Supper.  After that Mass, we will have quiet adoration.  Will you come and stay afterwards for a few minutes to “keep watch”?

Jesus himself is greatly distressed.  He knows what is about to happen and so He prays, “Take this cup away from me.”  Is not the same thing we pray when we face distress?  But Jesus’ prayer does not end there.  He continues, “but not what I will but what you will.”  Jesus hands it over to God.  We might often turn to God in our distress but do we hand it all over to His Will?

Then comes the betrayal?  A kiss, normally a sign of love, becomes an act of betrayal and Jesus is arrested.

He has done nothing wrong so those who plot to kill Him have to get people to offer false testimony but they get caught in their lies because their testimony does not agree.

Even so, Jesus is taken away for trial.  Not understanding what is going on, the disciples flee.  Peter remains near enough to see what is going on.  When confronted he denies knowing Jesus.  When he realizes his denial, he is broken and weeps.

Pilate allows Jesus to be crucified just to satisfy the crowd.  Jesus is mocked, beaten, scourged, and crucified.

It makes no sense.  The crowds cry out “He saved others; he cannot save himself.”  They have no idea that what they see as proof that He is not the messiah (his Crucifixion) is the very act by which He saves us.

It is in Jesus’ death that the centurion realizes that Jesus truly was the Son of God.  His death reveals the unlimited nature of God’s love.

When I began, I said the week started well with a royal welcome.  Our reading ends with Jesus’ death but there is more to come but for that we have to wait for next week.

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