Homily for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord Year A
Theme: Doing the Father’s Business
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily for Sunday April 5 2020
Mt 26:14 – 27:66
A kindergarten teacher challenged her children in class: “I’ll give $5 to anyone of you who can tell me the name of the most famous man in history.” An Irish boy quickly stood up and said, “St. Patrick ” The teacher said, “Sorry Ronnie, that’s not correct.” Then an Indian boy put his hand up and said, “Mahatma Gandhi.” The teacher replied, “I’m sorry, Ranjit, that’s not right either.” Finally, a Jewish boy raised his hand and said, “It’s Jesus Christ.”
The teacher said, “You got it right, Aaron! Here is your $5.” As the boy came up to her, she said, “You know Aaron, you surprised me. You are Jewish, yet you answered ‘Jesus Christ’”. Aaron replied: “Yeah, I know. My heart tells me it is Moses, but business is business.” (Anon.).
Jews are well known for being excellent businessmen. Jesus was a Jew, and he also meant business. As early as twelve years in age, when Mary and Joseph found him in the Temple, he already knew his mission. He asked them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). The translation of the Douay-Rheims Bible says: “And he said to them, Why is it that ye have sought me? Did ye not know that I ought to be occupied in my Father’s business?” He has come into the world, not to enjoy the popularity and adulation of the crowd, but to do the Father’s business.
This Sunday we commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. He knew he would suffer and die there. That is the core of the Father’s business that he sought to accomplish. He has to do it. And the appointed time has come. There is no turning back. For after all, he said, “My food is to do the will of the one who who sent me and to finish his work” (Jn 4:34). Business is business. Hence, this day marks the formal start of the passion of Jesus – his sufferings that will culminate in his death on the cross. Hence, we call this day Passion Sunday.
This is also known as Palm Sunday. That is because of the palm branches that are blessed during Mass. Palm branches were the ancient symbol of victory. Palm trees are not known to grow in Italy. When the Roman soldiers come home from battle, they would bring with them palm branches from the conquered territory as souvenir of their victory.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the people cheered and greeted him as they waved their palm branches. He was greeted as a victorious king. Rightly so, for, indeed, Jesus is the only true King!
But his kingship is not what the world knows. At the praetorium, Jesus would tell Pontius Pilate: “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here”(Jn 18:36).
he worldly kings and leaders of the time clearly misunderstood Jesus’ claim of kingship. They sought to take him out of the picture for they were bothered and afraid of Jesus. They should be, because for one thing, his is a kingship that is the antithesis of the world’s kingship.
The kings of this world follow the rules of the game of chess. It is a game that revolves around the king. Everybody serves the king; everybody is dispensable in order to save the king. The pawns, and other officials, including the queen, can be sacrificed. It is all about saving the king at all costs. That is the kingship that the world knows.
But the kingship of Jesus is the opposite. In his case, it is the king who is willing to sacrifice himself in order to save the lowly pawns. It is a kingship based not on power and dominion, but on love and total self-giving: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
Jesus enters Jerusalem as a victorious King. The people rejoiced and chanted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Mt 21:9) as they waved their palm branches. What they did not realize was that the victory of Jesus will come at the price of his own blood. At the age of twelve, he already knew he had to be in His Father’s business, and he knew fully well what it meant: shedding His own blood on the cross, giving up His own life that others may live.
As we begin the Holy Week, we also wave our palm branches, declaring the victory of Jesus. Unlike the people of Jerusalem, we know that his victory comes from his ultimate sacrifice on the cross. So, as Christians, we should also be preoccupied with the Father’s business – the business of love, self-giving and self-sacrifice. It is only in dying to our selfishness, it is only in total self-giving, it is only in genuine love, that we can also join in the victory of Jesus in our world today and for eternity.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Amsterdam St., Capitol Park Homes
Matandang Balara, Quezon City 1119