Well it has been a while since I posted a homily. I hate to do it when there are so many typos and I have been too busy to edit them. Here is the Palm Sunday Homily…typos and all.
Homily – Palm Sunday (Year A)
As we enter Holy week we are presented with a rich tradition of scripture that covers the entire period of Salvation history. One method of praying with the scriptures is what is called the Ignatian Method. It is a method in which we imagine ourselves present in the scriptures we are reading. When using this method a person honestly tries to answer the question of who they are most like and who they most identify with. Sometimes an honest reflection can lead us to a conclusion that we don’t like. We might find that the person we are most like isn’t the one we would want to be most like. The fruit of that meditation can then become a source of prayer.
I would encourage you to use the Ignatian method of scripture reading this week so that Holy week might truly be a fruitful experience of death to sin and resurrection to new life. I would hope also that each of us would draw closer to Christ and be more grateful for the great price he paid for our sins and come to know the love he has for us in that he was willing to pay that price.
I would suggest beginning today when you go home with the readings we have just heard. It is only two chapters of the Bible: Matt: 26&27. There are many characters in there to choose from. I would like to point out 5.
The Disciples: The disciples were with Christ in the good times but they did not hang around long for the bad. They walked with Jesus to Jerusalem when he was going as king. As soon as his suffering began in the garden they quickly went to sleep. Jesus asked them to pray one hour with him. Can we find one hour between now and Holy Thursday to pray with the Lord? Will we too abandon him at the hour when we are called to suffer?
The Jewish Leaders: Christ threatened the power of the Jewish leaders. They did not like being challenged for their sinfulness. They did not like the fact that the people responded to Jesus. They called for his death. They saw miracle after miracle and still they refused to believe? Why? They did not want to believe the message so they refused to believe the miracles. Not only did they refuse to believe the miracles but they manufactured lies in order to kill him. When they could not find anything truthful to use against him they went out and found people who were willing to lie. The believed themselves so righteous that they could justify anything. The lied and got others to lie to kill the man that threatened them.
Pontius Pilate: Pilate lacked the gift of fortitude. He was more concerned with what others were thinking about him than the fact that an innocent man would be put to death. His position as governor was threatened by the Jews through rebellion. They threatened to report him to his superiors and he backed down. He clearly did not want to condemn Jesus. But he wasn’t willing to pay the price to do the right thing. So in the end, he pretended that he had nothing to do with it. He washed his hands of the matter putting the blame on someone else. How valuable is our reputation to us? Is it worth more to us than doing what is right?
Judas: Judas betrayed Christ for the love of money. He was the treasurer of the Apostles. At one point shortly before the entrance into Jerusalem he complained because a woman anointed Christ with expensive oil. He argued that it was wasted and that the money could have been given to the poor. He thought that money spent on Christ was wasted. His concern wasn’t truly for the poor but for himself. He wanted to use the money for himself. In the end he would sell his savior for 30 pieces of silver. This happens to be the same price you would pay for a slave. Judas was the slave to money and in the end he loved money more than Christ. If someone loves money more than Christ, they can have all the reasons or excuses they want to fool others and themselves, but in the end as Christ himself said: It would be better that they had not been born.
The Crowd: There is a reason that the people in the pews take the voice of the crowd. Think about the crowd as St Bernard does. They loved him when they thought he would be king. They waved olive branches when they greeted him and praised him loudly. A few days later they would be calling loudly: “Crucify him”. On Palm Sunday they called him King of Israel and on Good Friday they said they had no King but Ceasar. On Palm Sunday they laid down their cloaks for his donkey to walk on. On Good Friday they were stripping him of his clothes and casting lots for it. Are we as fickle when it comes to being a Christian? Were gung ho one day and another day the most deviant of sinners? Are we faithful and steadfast or do we go whatever way the crowd does.
Each of these presents us with much fruit for meditation. There are certainly others. If we are willing to sit and pray the passion with Christ for one hour then the fruit can be great. It might not be easy for before the cross there is no defense. Spend an hour with Christ this week in prayer or go to sleep as the disciples did. What effect this next week has on you is completely up to you. We each will reap what we are now sowing. If we sow in the flesh then we reap a harvest of corruption. If we sow in the spirit the fruits are our death and resurrection into eternal life. The choice is yours. Choose well.