Homilies‎ > ‎

Palm Sunday 2012

posted Apr 2, 2012, 4:27 AM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

Palm Sunday

March 31-April 1



            Today is "Palm" Sunday ... or, as it is more formally called: "Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord" ... or simply Passion Sunday.

The word "passion" comes from a Latin word meaning "suffering."

Today, our Gospel is the "Passion" – that is, the story of the suffering ... the suffering and death of Jesus.

We begin Holy Week, then ... the "holiest" week of the Church year ... by recalling the unfolding of events that led to the death of our Lord.


            We read the Passion today on Passion Sunday ... and we will read it again, a different version, on Good Friday.

And both times, the Passion is broken up into parts ... and all of us together have a part.

Our part, all together, is the part of the crowds.

We don't have many lines.

And our lines are not very nice.

In fact, our main line in the Passion story is "Crucify him! Crucify him!"

And so, in that sense, we play the villains in this particular story.


            And, of course, we are.

Because of our sin, we are the crowds who sent Jesus to his death.

Because of our sin, we are Peter who denied him.

We are the three disciples who couldn't stay awake for an hour with Jesus in the Garden ... and would later abandon him.

And, because of our sin, you and I are Judas who betrayed him.

"Them is us."

We are them.


            Each and every time that we have sinned, we have betrayed him and the way that he taught.

In every way that we have lived more according to the values, priorities, example of this world, we have denied him and his teaching.

Every time that we have missed Sunday Mass, neglected our faith, passed up opportunities to grow in our faith, failed to spend time in daily prayer, we have been just like those disciples who couldn't manage to stay awake with him.


            If we don't see this sad truth, we can't really understand the wonder of what will unfold in the week ahead.

If we don't realize, acknowledge, reflect on the fact that the holy, innocent, sinless Jesus paid the price for our sins—yours and mine—then we will never grasp the wonder of what it means to say that Jesus Christ is our Savior.

If we fail to grasp, at some real level, the fact that the All Holy Son of God suffered a terrible, painful, humiliating death ... for the sake of sinners ... for the sake of sinners like us ... if we fail to grasp this most basic truth that we are the sinners for whom he died, then we will never truly grasp, at all, the height, the breadth, the depth of God's love.

Unless we can see ourselves as the sinners in today's Gospel – the crowd, Judas, Peter, the other disciples – then we will never see that his love led him to die for you ... and for me ... for each and every one of us.

In that case, we couldn't possibly know how it is that his life, death, and resurrection is truly Good News.

And then, none of the rest of this Holy Week will mean anything.


OK, Jesus ate with disciples; he suffered; he died; he rose again. Alleluia. What's next? Is it time for Christmas yet?


            In this Holy Week, more than ever, we must look into our hearts ... into our lives ... into our values, into our relationships, into our priorities,  into our ways of thinking and acting ... and discover or re-discover and face the reality of our sin ... not so that we can wallow in guilt or think of ourselves as bad people or beat ourselves up about the past ...

No, we need to confront the reality that we are sinners  ... so that we can truly marvel at the divine love... so that we can truly know what it means to say that Jesus Christ is Good News ... so that we can let that Good News of God's love for us—in the death and resurrection of Jesus—truly mark and change and transform  our lives.