Homily for Palm/Passion Sunday Year C
Theme: JESUS THE IN-CHARGE! JESUS NEEDS YOUR DONKEY!
By: Padre Pio Nwankwo, CMF
Homily for Sunday April 10 2022
Reading for the Entrance Procession: Luke 19:28-40. Readings for Mass: Isaiah 50:4-7 Ps 22:8 9, 17-20, 23-24. Philippians 2:6-11. Luke 22:14–23:56
Today is both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday which marks the beginning of the most Holy Week. Today our celebration presents contrasting episodes of joy/glory and suffering/death of the same Person-Jesus. All these He underwent for love of you and me. However, what struck me most in reflecting on the Passion Narrative is the ability of Jesus to remain calm and “in charge” despite the provocations or anything done to him by anyone. This indeed for me shows the true kingship of Jesus, even though JESUS RULES FROM THE THRONES OF HIS CROSS since his kingship is not of this world. His total “cool” disposition in the face of suffering and eminent death can only been seen in the Messiah who willingly accepted the cross for the sake of love. From the moment he sent his disciples to get the donkey, with the instruction to tell any inquirer that the “Master has needs of it” to the crucifixion on the cross, where he actually rules in love, all his words and actions befit a King in a special class.
THE READINGS SUMMED UP: Having the Passion Narrative in hindsight, our First Reading and the Psalm of today present what should be seen as the prophecy of our Lord’s Passion. Thus, we are relieving the fulfilment of this prophecy in the Passion narrative and the Responsorial Psalm today. “For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.” (Isa 50:5-6). The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, presented the understanding of Jesus’ mission by the early Christians. This understanding was based on their conviction and in their encounter with the apostles and disciples of Jesus. The first Gospel of today presents Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jesus and this will be the last time for Him to enter this city. The pomp and pageantry that accompanied this entrance aroused the curiosity of all who witnessed it. Besides fulfilling the prophecies of old, the massive crowd would later turn their back against Jesus in the Passion Narrative and sought for a criminal to be released to them instead. This is the irony of life! Good men do not last!
THE WELCOMING OF BARABBAS AND THE CONDEMNATION OF JESUS: Dear child of God, our world today has all the indices of what transpired during the judgement of Jesus. But most especially in asking for the release of Barabbas in place of Jesus. Now, the Bible tells us who Barabbas was: Barabbas, a well-known criminal who had been imprisoned “for an insurrection in the city, and for murder” (Luke 23:19). In sum, he was a notorious criminal imprisoned for murder. He was a murderer! The Jews were comfortable to have him released and have Jesus the Prince of Peace crucified. All the records and works of Jesus bore witness that He was a good man, even if most of Jews never believed in Him as the promised Messiah. Today, in all most every facets of our lives we continue to ask that the “Barabbas” be released and Jesus be crucified. In the political circle especially in Africa, we are more interested to defend and vote in again, the “Barabbas Politician” that has embezzled public funds meant for development and the provision of social amenities because this “Barabbas Politician” is from our tribe or clan or lineage. In sum, we are ready to defend the “Barabbas Politician” in the words of PLO Lumumba thus: “we know he is a thief, let him be our own thief”. In fact, we have been so jinxed in electing “Barabbas leaders” to such an extent that some are beginning to question their rationality. In the Moral realm, we are more interested in fighting against the Divine and Moral laws, instead we want to institute “Barabbas laws” that creates room for criminality and murder. In Familial relationships we want the destroy the Divine law creating the institution of the family and instead enthrone the “Barabbas family model” where anything goes, and anybody can marry anybody or anything! In our human actions today, we more interested in living the “Barabbas way of life” since we have the cheering crowds to our side, and thus we forget the Jesus’ way of life that leads to eternal life. These examples can be extended “ad infinitum”. Let us ask ourselves WHERE DO YOU BELONG OR WHO DO YOU STAND WITH? BARABBAS OR JESUS!
SHARING OUR COLT WITH JESUS AND ALLOWING HIM TO BE IN-CHARGE: Dear child of God, it is our Christian duty to allow Jesus to be in charge of our lives and all the situations surrounding us whether sweet or sour. He will handle them and make us come out glorious. For ourselves, we have to participate fully in this Holy Week in order to “lighten” the burden of Jesus in this week. There are many ways of doing these. One way could be to share our colt or donkey with Jesus. Certainly, we have our colt that we need to share with Jesus, this could “anything that belongs to us and is not yet being shared with Christ: It could be our possessions, money, talents and skills, creativity, time and energy, etc. The Master has need of it! But sometimes we selfishly tie these up with our own agendas and busyness. They would be useful to Jesus if we let him have them. Like the colt that Jesus rode, they could become gifts that glorify our Savior”. Another way could be to find Jesus in the least privileged and the suffering, the sick and the unloved, the abused victims and so on. It is also in these ways that Jesus will be glorified. Finally, another way could be through a sincere sorrow and contrition for our sins, going for the sacrament of Penance or Confession and getting reconciled with God, so as to be spiritually fit to journey with Jesus in this Holy Week. This helps us to welcome Christ without any fear.
WHERE DO YOU BELONG: THE CROWD DID NOT GO THE CROSS: “The crowd is untruth” so says Søren Kierkegaard and this we witness in a singular manner in the Passion Narrative. Similarly, in our lives as Christians the crowd will disappoint us, the crowd will betray us, the crowd will leave us when it matters most. It is only Jesus who will stand by us through thick and thin! The crowd was not there for Jesus when he needed them most. The crowd did not go to the cross. The crowd abandoned Jesus. Only a few women and John went to the cross. So much for the crowd! Dear child of God, which part in the whole episode of this Palm/Passion Sunday can you identify yourself with? Are you ready to be the donkey that carried Jesus? CARRYING JESUS IN YOUR HEART AND NOT JUST BY NAME, that is, AM I A DONKEY WITH A CHRISTIAN NAME OR ONE CARRYING CHRIST? Are you among those that shouted and glorified Jesus by many “Hosannas” but later turn around to shout CRUCIFY HIM, with alacrity and joy? Are you ready to receive Jesus and take Him home and let Him be in charge of the affairs in your life? This is signified by the taking of the blessed branches home and the manner you treat it. Are you among the soldiers who mocked and derided Jesus? Can you identify yourself with Pilate or the Chief Priests who condemned Jesus? etc. The part you may have identified yourself with and those who actually participated is not so significant as compared to the singular fact that Jesus is in charge and moreover, all these were necessary for Him to die and restore us to the dignity of the children of God. Let us pray and ask for God’s grace in this week, so that we may be fully involved spiritually in the journey of this Holy Week, for it is only in participating in the Lord’s passion that we will be found worthy to share in his resurrection. JOKE OF THE WEEK: Little Johnny was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from Church with his mother. His father returned from Church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked why. His father explained, “You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor him; so, we got palm branches today.” “Aw, shucks,” grumbled Little Johnny. “The one Sunday I can’t go to Church, and Jesus shows up!” LENT IS THE RIGHT TIME TO “COME BACK TO OUR SENSES” AND SEEK GOD. HAPPY LENTEN SEASON AND MAY THE GRACE OF GOD LOCATE YOU! Happy Sunday and do have a blessed week. Blessings to you and to your family +. PRAY YOUR ROSARY DAILY FOR IT IS SO POWERFUL. Please do say a prayer for me as I uplift you in my prayers too. “A CHRISTIAN IS NOT AN ORDINARY PERSON AND THE LIFE OF A CHRISTIAN IS A LIFE OF WARFARE”.
Padre Pio Nwankwo, CMF