HOMILY FOR PALM SUNDAY/ PASSION SUNDAY
HOMILY THEME:… WELCOMED AS A KING BUT CONDEMNED AS A SLAVE. THE JESUS’ EXPERIENCE.”
BY: Fr. Mezie Clem Aladi.
Passion: Mk 11:1-10; Mk 14:1–15:47
My dearest brothers and Sisters today we have gathered to celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to accomplish his salvific mission. Today marks the beginning of the holy week. Our celebration today is one of mixed feelings. A celebration that began with triumphant songs of kingly praises but culminated in a sorrowful passion of betrayal and condemnation. It was not the Jews but me and you who betrayed and condemned him. The same people who sang his kingly praises, turned around to seek his death, what paradox of human behaviour.
We have entered into the most holy of all weeks. A week in which the mystery of our salvation has accomplished through the sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ. A week that defined our existence as Christians and gave meaning to our lives as God’s Children. We are not simply recounting history or retelling a story that happened thousands of years ago, neither are we remembering a past event, we are simply reliving and re-enacting i.e. living out presently and consciously participating with Christ in everything he underwent to gain our freedom and salvation. Therefore Proper participation in the Holy Week liturgy will deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. Let us remember that Holy Week can become “holy” for us only if we actively and consciously take part in the liturgies of this week. This is also the week when we should lighten the burden of Christ’s passion as daily experienced by the hungry, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the lonely and the outcast through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
The readings of today has contrasting moments of glory and suffering. Joy and sorrow. Pleasure and Pain which are the two extremes of human experience. Jesus also experienced the Joy of Kingly and triumphant welcome as well the sorrows of betrayal, unjust trial, and condemnation which culminated in His suffering and death. These are the dynamics of human experience. Jesus experienced it because He is truly human. To deny His Humanity is to reject His suffering as a truly human experience. We too daily experience moments of Joys and sorrows, but in His sufferings we draw our strength.
In the first reading From the third servant Song of Isaiah 50:4-7, Jesus saw aspects of his own life and mission foreshadowed in the Servant Songs, and the Church refers to them in this time of solemn meditation on the climax of Jesus’ life.
The second readings from Philippians 2:6-11 is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of who Jesus is, and of how his mission saves us from sin and death. This reading reminds us that our Lord willingly surrendered himself to experience suffering and humiliation for our sake. He did not cling to His divinity but became man in order to redeem men. He humbled himself further in His humanity to be enslaved like a servant, obediently embracing suffering, and death and crucifixion for our sake. WHAT ELSE HAS GOD NOT DONE FOR US . LET US STOP HUMILIATING HIM FURTHER BY OUR SINFUL LIVES.
The Gospel today has two parts. The first part read before the procession with palm describes the royal reception which Jesus received from his admirers. Jesus permitted such a royal procession for two reasons: 1) to reveal to the general public that he was the promised Messiah, and 2) to fulfil the prophecies of Zechariah (9:9) and Zephaniah(3:16-19): “Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion… .
In the second part we listen to, Markan passion narrative. In this Passion narrative we are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the story like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.
Our attitudes are not different from that of the above mentioned personalities. At most moments of our life, we deny, betray, ridicule, act against our conscience and persevere in our position in justifying evil. Before the beginning of the procession, Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Lk 19:41-42), and when the procession was over, he cleansed the Temple (Lk 19:45-46). On the following day, he cursed a barren fig tree. Jesus cursed a fig tree for lying with its leaves. It looked good from the outside, but there was nothing there.
We need to ask our selves does Jesus still weep over my sins? Are you ready to imitate the prodigal son and return to God, our loving Father by confessing your sins and making a sincere and honest resolution to turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel so as to share in His resurrection.
Let us welcome Jesus into our heart and in into our homes. Today, we receive palm branches, let us take them to our homes and put them some place where we can always see them. Let the palms remind us that Christ is the King of our families, that Christ is the King of our hearts and that Christ is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives.
Let the experience of this Holy week strengthen us in our various difficulties and challenges of life. Suffering and pain is an inevitable part of human experience, no one wants to experience it but, many tries to avoid it at all cost. But the Holy week reminds us that it is through suffering that we enter into victory. Without the cross there cannot be a crown. So be strong child of God in your sufferings, don’t deny Christ because of your hard experiences because if you remain strong and faithful to Him, you will also share in His victory someday.
Let us offer Christ our donkeys. If someone had not let go of his donkey who knows Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem would not have been as triumphant as it was. Jesus needs our sacrifices to support the church and suffering humanity. Our little sacrificial gifts go a long way in relieving the crosses of many who are suffering. Let us be generous and Kind.
Let us always remember that a Christian without Christ is a contradiction in terms. Such a one betrays the Christian message. Hence, let us become active Christians during this Holy Week, enabling others to see in us Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness and sacrificial service.
May the experience of the Holy week renew and restore your faith in God. May you receive the grace to be a better child of God. May it strengthen you in moments of difficulties. May you see beyond your sufferings the Victory that lies ahead.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
Fr. Mezie Clem Aladi
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