Fr. Ben’s homily for Palm Sunday Year C
Theme: HOSANNA FILIO DAVID!
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
Homily for Sunday April 10 2022
*Lk 19 :28 – 40.
1. Motive of Praise: The 1st part of today’s liturgy x – rays the need to roundly affirm the lordship of Christ again as the whole Christians all over the world move today dramatically, with palms from Bethany to Jerusalem. May I remind you that Bethany was one of the places that witnessed the greatest miracles of Christ, eg, the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
(a) The principal motif of praise today is: ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord – Hosanna to the Son of David’.
*I remind you of what Christ said earlier when he lamented over Jerusalem: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you…Look! Your house will be deserted for I promise that you shall not see me anymore until you are saying “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”, Matt 23 :37 – 39.
* The hour of praise had come and so Christ had to remind them that ‘Even if these keep silent, the stones will cry out’.
* Yes, even if some Christians especially among the orthodox Churches choose to remain cold in worship today, so many in different Churches all over the world are ready to explode in praise of God.
(b) But there is a double entendre here; the same lips that hallowed the name of Christ, sooner or later will say ‘Crucify him, Crucify him’. And that is the paradox of modern day ‘Christianism’ (fake version of Christianity) and human infidelity. As Christians, many times we praise Jesus with our lips only to contradict ourselves the next minute.
2. Significance of Palms; Palm is a symbol of praise, victory, solemnity and martyrdom (that’s why we wear red vestments today). It is also a sign of peace.
3. Significance of the Donkey; Christ’s request for a donkey is followed by a clause: ‘The master needs it’ and by riding on a donkey, the beast of the Messiah, he declared positively that he was the Messiah and King as prophesied, Zech 9 :3 – Lo, your King comes to you, triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey.
4. Summary; There is an inseparable mixture between religion and politics since both has to do with power (No wonder why personalities like Judas had to join the apostolic college). But in the former, the glory comes through suffering. That is why, the best moment we can praise God is in our moment of suffering and pain.
Kingship here is synonymous with service. The Master does not actually need anything from us. He owns everything we have. But through our daily submission to him through praise worship and offerings, he begins to reign and his kingdom comes in our lives and in our various families and communities. We will never enjoy his glory in our lives until we are able to say: HOSANNA TO THE SON OF DAVID…BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!
5. May the Lord fill your hearts today with a sincere desire to praise his name as we journey from Bethany to Jerusalem for this year’s Holy Week celebration.
Homily 2: A DISCIPLE’S TONGUE, HEART AND EAR!
*Is 50: 4 – 7, Phil 2: 6, Lk 22: 14 – 23: 56.
1.The grace of humility.
‘The Lord has given me a disciple’ s tongue that I may know how to reply to the wearied. He provides me with speech in praise of God… Each morning, he wakes me up to hear his Word and listen like a disciple (as in our daily devotion to morning mass)… Therefore, I have not been confounded.. I shall not be put to shame ‘.
*Humility is the hallmark of true devotion and praise. Without it, our worship of God is trapped in a cobweb of contradictions.
B. DEFINITIONS OF HUMILITY
(a) Worldly definition: Taking your rightful position.
(b) Spiritual (Pauline) definition 1: Realizing your nothingness before God and before others, Rom 12 : 3 – think of yourself dispassionately.
(c) Spiritual (Christ’s) definition 2: ‘Kenosis’ in Greek – coming down – emptying of self.
* In the 3 readings of today’s 2nd liturgy, humility is comprehensively celebrated; (i) In the 1st reading, Is 50: 4-7, we see humility in speech emphasized. (ii) In the 2nd reading, Phil 2: 6, we see humility in being emphasized. (iii) In the 3rd reading, Lk 22: 26, we also see humility in action emphasized; ‘The greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves others’.
*This in actual practice may look like pretence but it is not. I once radically defined Humility as “a pretentious act of condescension that becomes real with time”. This act of condescension can come in various forms and ramifications.
In prayer, humility is also emphasized. Jesus says in today’s gospel; ‘If this cup can pass, let it but not my will – an angel came to strengthen him’.
*What a sharp contrast from the modern Pentecostal style of praying we see today: ‘Father, I decree in the name of Jesus that this cup shall not be my portion….’
C. CASE STUDY OF HUMILITY
Let’s just take a case study of 3 major characters in this gospel passage vis – a – vis our study on humility and holiness;
(a) PETER; Christ told him: ‘Satan demanded to sift you like wheat but I have prayed for you that your faith may not dwindle and when you are re – invigorated, strengthen your brethren’.
*Holiness is not by our own power but by the special grace of God. Look at Peter’s vows and how he quickly fell. He however, remembered the Word of God and repented.
*A saint is a repented sinner. Christ asked him earlier: ‘Why do you sleep? Pray that you may not enter into temptation’. According to St Theresa of Avila, ‘He who does not pray does not need the devil to lull him into hell but eagerly proceeds there by himself’.
(b) JUDAS; He betrayed his master with a kiss. The moral difference between Peter’s denial and Judas’ betrayal is that the former is a condition of falling down in sin (odida) while the latter is a condition of lying down in sin (ndina). He (Judas) already received a bad communion and so, ‘it was night’, Jn 13 :23 – 30. Continual reception of Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin is the greatest killer of the moral life. Earlier on, he took bribe and looked for an opportunity to betray his master. (Plotted sin is higher than accidental sin). Christ said: ‘This is your time – your hour of darkness’, Lk 22 :53.
(c) JESUS: SUMMARY OF THE DRAMA;
(i) Jesus before Herod; He deserved no word from Jesus.
Lesson: Silence is the best answer to a fool.
(ii) Jesus before Pilate; He faced him with the truth of his kingship – for those who are on the side of truth. The crowd’s choice for Barrabas (the criminal) and their rejection of Jesus (the light of the world) is emblematic of today’s corrupt political society.
Lesson :We must bear witness to the truth even in our corrupt society.
(iii) Jesus before the crying women; ‘Weep not for me but for yourselves and your children’.
Lesson: Only true repentance and corporate intercession can save our various families living in bandage – not ‘Olu ezinuno’ – ‘Father, do it for us mentality ‘.
(iv) Jesus before his father; He prayed ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing’.
Lesson: He keeps interceding for us at the right hand of the father.
(v) Jesus before the 2 thieves; ‘Jesus, remember me in your kingdom… Tonight, you will be with me in Paradise’.
Lesson: To as many sinners as do the same, Christ says the same.
Christ reigns from the Cross. He is the suffering servant of God that taught us how to have a disciple’s tongue, ear, heart and mind. There is so much quarelling and fighting in our world today just because most Christians have not taken up the DISCIPLE’S TONGUE, HEART AND EAR. And this is so because we are not sufficiently devoted to the spirituality of His Cross. His Cross reminds us that we too can win the glory through cross and pains. Let us therefore locate our personal calvaries even in our homes, offices, market and communities.
On the last day, Christ will look us over and over not searching for medals, scapula or even crucifixes but for scars and wounds sustained in the process of bearing witness to him. Let’s learn to suffer in hope and perseverance, Rom 5 :1-3 and let nothing separate us from the love of Christ, Rom 8 :35. Have a spirit – filled Holy Week celebration!