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

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
Gospel at the Procession – Mark 11:1-10
Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24 (2a)
Philippians 2:6-11
Mark 14:1-15:47
March 28, 2021

Our gospel for the blessing of the palms began, “When Jesus and his disciples drew near to Jerusalem.”  Taken at face value, the words “drew near to Jerusalem” tell us that Jesus and his disciples are getting geographically close to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover.

Looking at the words on a deeper level, the appointed time draws near.  Jesus’ hour is coming for him to be handed over.

As He approaches Jerusalem, He is greeted with people spreading their cloaks and leafy branches.  Jesus is welcomed as a king.  He is welcomed as the Messiah with the words, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…Hosanna in the highest.”

He enters riding on a colt “on which no one has ever sat.”  In the sacrifices of the Old Testament, it was always to be young lamb without blemish.  Jesus’ entry on a colt that had never been sat on points to the sacred sacrifice of his own life that He is about to offer.

Jesus comes as the Son of God.  He came incarnate in the flesh but He had always existed.  Prior to his Incarnation, “he was in the form of God” but He “did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.” 

Rather, He willingly “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave…human in appearance.”  Jesus gave up his divinity to become human like us so that we can be raised up to Heaven to share in his divinity.

He humbled himself.

How much time do we spend trying to make ourselves great?  What we really need to do is humble ourselves to recognize that we cannot really make ourselves great in what really matters.  It is God who makes us great when we humble ourselves and become obedient to God.

Jesus was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Because of this, God greatly exalted him.

It is what God intended all long.  In today’s first reading, we hear one of the Suffering Servant passages from Isaiah.  Jesus fulfills that passage in his passion as he gives his back to those who beat him.  The words of the psalm are fulfilled in the way Jesus is mocked, the way his hands and feet are pierced, and his garments divided.

Jesus willingly, humbly and obediently, submitted to all of this to make us great.  It was necessary for him to do this so that our sins will be forgiven.  We could not be saved otherwise.

Thank you Jesus!

When we think of Jesus’ suffering, we often think of how He was physically beaten, scourged, and crucified.  There should be no doubt that He endured a terrible suffering in these for us.

In his book, The Passion and the Cross, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI (Cincinnati: Franciscan Media. 2015), speaks of another type of suffering that Jesus faced in his Passion, how Jesus was left “alone, misunderstood, lonely, isolated, without support” (the quote is from page 4, theme is discussed extensively over several pages).

It was one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot, who would betray him with a kiss, a sign of affection, to hand Jesus over to the chief priests.

It was Peter, chosen as the rock on which Jesus would build his Church who would deny him three times.  Jesus knew these things would happen.  He even said to them, “All of you will have your faith shaken…and the sheep will be dispersed.” 

They did indeed all leave him and flee.

How much did Jesus suffer being left alone?

He knew this was coming.  As it began to unfold, He would go off to pray, taking Peter, James, and John with him.  He prayed, “Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.

He did not want to suffer but He humbly and obediently submitted to the suffering for our salvation.

Do we truly submit ourselves to the Father’s will?

Do we keep watch with Jesus?  On Holy Thursday, after Mass we always have a time of adoration to keep watch.  Will you spend some time with Jesus then? 

Do you spend some time each day with God, seeking to know and do his will?  Jesus willingly gave his life for you. 

He truly is the Son of God.

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