Homily for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord Year A
Theme: New Life in Christ
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday April 5 2020
The Lenten journey is gradually reaching its climax with the Holy Week celebrations. Through the celebrations of the Holy Week, we enter into one of the deepest part of the Church’s spiritual and liturgical life and the celebrations of the Paschal Mysteries of Christ. Our journey of faith is never empty. It is a blessed journey; a journey to God, in and with Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The companionship of Christ through this journey changes our perception of our experiences and inspires us through the right direction. With Christ before us, the challenges of life and the reality of suffering and pain are lived with a salvific mindset. May the merits of the celebrations of the Holy Week sanctify us, make us Christ-like and render us Christ-attentive; Amen.
The Feast of today brings us to celebrate the Triumphant Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with the hilarious and royal songs with which the crowd led him into the city “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mt 21:1-11). This forms the first part of the Liturgy of today with the blessing of Palm fronds which is carried in procession to recall that solemn entry. It is from this rite of blessing of Palm Fronds that this Sunday receives the name ‘Palm Sunday.’ Also at Mass, the Passion Narrative is read for the first time, recounting the travails of our Lord Jesus Christ; His Passion, Crucifixion and death, for which today is also known as Passion Sunday. The Passion Narrative (Mt 26:14-27) opens up to us the most delicate and tensed period of the life and ministry of Jesus; betrayed by one of His apostles, condemned by His country men and women, abandoned by the rest of His apostles and disciples, mocked by the crowd, helped by Simon of Cyrene, consoled by some women, not granted freedom by the leaders, subjected to severe suffering by the soldiers, crucified on the cross for our sins; and all of these before the very eyes of His beloved and virgin Mother Mary. The Passion Narrative together with the other readings make us understand the more the reality of suffering and its salvific implications especially with reference to our Lord Jesus Christ. In the words of Isaiah 50:4-7, “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.”
Suffering comes in different ways to different people. One common thing underlying these different kinds of suffering is the fact that they breed pain and anguish in the one who suffers. This was also the same with our Lord Jesus Christ that He cried out, making His own the words of the Psalmist “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” However, there is always something deeper than pain about suffering and that is the fact that it can be salvific. Our respective sufferings could also be salvific when lived in line with the merits of the sufferings of Christ; when we locate ourselves in the story of our Lord Jesus Christ, we see ourselves on our individual and collective journey to God our Creator. God never abandons us. He is always there with us just as He was with our Lord Jesus Christ. Even when the weight of our suffering and pain want to push us to lose sight of Him; He is right there helping and strengthening and encouraging us to keep faith and move on. The experiences of our Lord Jesus are sources of encouragement to all who believe. His passion, death and resurrection bring us to enter into a new relationship with God in a mode that is everlasting and in a depth and sublimity that is not accessible to the Devil. In the Passion of Christ, we see the connection between suffering and glory for Christ was humble “even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised Him high and gave Him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus” (Phil 2:6-11). In this moment of global shutdown as a result of this death laden virus, and of untold suffering and pain in the lives and on the faces of all men and women, we look up to the Cross, we behold more deeply the face of the suffering but ever glorious Christ, assured of the fact that our help comes only from Him who made heaven and earth. By His passion and resurrection, He has set us free for He is the Saviour of the world.
Lord God, King of the universe, in Christ your only Begotten Son, You renewed the face of the earth and gave us new life. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may we receive this New Life as we walk with Him through the Holy Week celebrations, especially in this time of crisis and of increasing threats to life; Amen.
Happy Palm Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE