Monday, April 18, 2011

A brief homily for Palm Sunday

Today we celebrate Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem riding humbly on a donkey. Today marks the beginning of the New Exodus—like a warrior preparing to conquer death, Jesus enters the city where He will be mocked, tortured, stripped and crucified… and where He will lead us to conquer DEATH.
See the true humility of Jesus Christ—He is the Son of God who for love of us also becomes the Son of King David, in order to lay down His life for us. He is the One who will reestablish the Kingdom of God and to put and end once and for all to sin and death.
Brothers and sisters, we would do well to witness the reaction of the crowds—both the crowd that travels with Jesus up to the city gates AND the also the citizens of Jerusalem who are troubled by what this SOLEMN entrance means for them… Today we are not simply reenacting an historical event that happened long ago. Instead, we welcome Jesus Christ HERE and NOW—after all, He is more ALIVE than any of us. What do the crowds tell us today?
1) First, there is the crowd that travels with Him to the gates of Jerusalem… They sing “HOSANNA” (a word which originally meant “SAVE US NOW!”) …and line the road before Jesus with garments and palms—what does any of this mean for us, if we do not welcome Jesus Christ with our faith and love? We NEED a Savior, but we must ask ourselves: do we WELCOME the Savior? Are we willing to throw onto the ground before Him the pride, the resentment, the greed, the lust that we hold so closely to ourselves?
2) Then there are the citizens within the city of Jerusalem. When St. Matthew tells us: “when [Jesus] entered Jerusalem 
the whole city was shaken and asked, “Who is this?” He uses here the same Greek word to describe the earthquake following the Resurrection—the whole people are "shaken" as from an earthquake. In His humility, in His going to the Cross, God shakes us to our very foundations. Let us not be afraid or ashamed—God shakes us in order to FREE us from what enslaves us. This is true humility—not to belittle ourselves or to think of how “bad” we are, but to acknowledge WHO we are BEFORE Almighty God.
Brothers and sisters, let us welcome Jesus into our hearts and let us ENTER into this Holy Week with true humility and trust. Let us enter into the New Jerusalem with Christ our King.

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