Homily for Palm Sunday Year C
Theme: BEWARE OF FLATTERY.
By: Fr. Karabari Paul
Homily for Sunday April 10 2022
“And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:28-40, 22:14-23:56).
Today is Psalm Sunday also known as Passion Sunday. It is the beginning of the most holy and solemn days of the year called the Holy Week. It begins with the blessing of branches and procession which marks the triumphant entry of Jesus to the city of Jerusalem. The first part presents the royal reception which Jesus received from his admirers. They paraded with him for a distance of two miles: from the mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem. Two-and-a-half million people were normally present to celebrate the Jewish feast of passover. The crowds spread their cloaks and palm branches on the streets, shouting “Hossana to the Son of David and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” On all previous occasions, Our Lord rejected the false enthusiasm of the people, fled the spotlight of publicity, and avoided anything that savored of display. At one time: He gave his disciples strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah (Matt 16:20), when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead: He gave them strict orders to let no one hear about it (Mark 5:43), after transfiguration, He told them not to tell anyone until he is risen from the dead (Mark 9:8), he escaped from the multitude that tried to make him king (John 6:15). He rejected all previous offers and dampened their enthusiasms. Now, he accepts them. Because the ‘Hour’ has come. We must be patient with ourselves. We must learn to wait for our right time of glory.
For two reasons, Jesus permitted the royal reception at the appointed Hour. 1) To reveal to the general public that He is the promised Messiah. 2) To fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah (9:9)and Zephaniah (3:16-19) “Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion…See now your King comes to you; he is victorious, triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey. The colt/donkey Jesus selects for the procession is one that has not been ridden before, reminding us of the words of 1Sam 6:7 concerning the animal that was to carry the Ark of the Covenant. And here, Jesus is to effect a new covenant. The donkey is a symbol of peace and those who ride on it proclaim peaceful intentions. The donkey represents our souls that God needs urgently. The coming of Christ into our context is to untie our souls from the tree of sin. The tree around which the donkey is tied reminds us of the tree at the middle of the Garden of Eden in Gen.3:3 where Adam and Eve contracted the sin of disobedience which befell humanity.
The spreading of branches signals the arrival of a King in victory. Nearly 25000 lambs were sacrificed during the feast of passover, but the lamb which was sacrificed by the High Priest was taken to the temple in a procession four days before the main feast day. On Palm Sunday, Jesus, the true Paschal lamb, is taken to the temple in a large procession.
The celebration of Palm Sunday touches the key elements of Holy Week in it entirety. The dual nature of this ceremony points to the unsettled and deceptive behaviour of man; the same man who shouted “Hosanna in the Highest” also called out “crucify Him.” This is our life. It is our own experience. They rejoice with you in the morning and reject you in the evening. The journey with Jesus teaches us so many lessons; that the man who praises you may not stand with you to the end. Don’t be used to it because he may lead the battle for your destruction tomorrow.
We must beware of flattery. a flatterer is someone who will pat you on the back with one hand, and in some cases, knife you in the back with the other. Flattery is something a person will say to your face but will not say behind your back. It is insincere praise from an insincere motive. And the Bible warns us to beware of it: ‘A flattering neighbour is up to no good; he’s probably planning to take advantage of you’ (Proverbs 29:5). Flatterers will do you no good. In fact, Solomon says that in the long run you are better off with a person who will criticise you than a person who will flatter you. ‘He who rebukes a man will find more favour afterward than he who flatters with the tongue’ (Proverbs 28:23). When it comes to flattery you should always keep these two things in mind: 1) Give praise sparingly but sincerely, with nothing but the best in mind for the other person. 2) Receive praise wisely, without taking yourself or the person giving the praise too seriously. Always remember that flattery was the weapon that Satan used to bring Adam and Eve down in the Garden of Eden: ‘You will be like God’ (Genesis 3:5). That is why Solomon writes, ‘The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives (Proverbs 27:21).
Again, that you stand alone against the majority doesn’t mean that you are wrong. If you are on the side of God, do not be afraid to stand alone. And you don’t have to give up on God’s assignment in the face of imposed shame and condemnation. As we journey with Jesus on earth, we get in contact with all these. Learning from and focusing on Jesus is the only way to overcome. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God heal our world, God bless you and your household always through Christ Our Lord Amen. Happy Holy Week
Fr. Karabari Paul