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Homily: Palm Sunday 2021

From the wisdom of Palm Sunday, and the wisdom of the past year, we learn that we have the capacity to either bring joy or pain to one another.

Homily: PALM SUNDAY of the Lord's Passion   Msgr. Joseph K. Ntuwa

Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1–15:47

Dear friends, this year, as we enter our holiest week, we read the account of the passion from the Gospel of Mark. In a few days, on Good Friday, we will read the account from John. Among all the cruel and violent persons, we hear about in Christ’s last hours of suffering, perhaps it is easy to overlook those who were kind. For instance, at Bethany, Simon the leper offers him hospitality, and a woman (nameless to us) with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil anoints Jesus. Since Jesus will soon be executed as a criminal, with the possibility of no Jewish funeral rite or burial place, this was a tender moment of deep meaning. This woman put herself in danger to honor him and his sacrifice. In Jerusalem, there was Simon of Cyrene who helped carry his cross, and Joseph of Arimathea who courageously asked Pilate for the body of Jesus and laid him in a new tomb. All of these people, and perhaps more whom we do not know, were glimpses of light in a day of darkness. They were peace amidst the conflict; joy amidst the sorrow; celebration in the midst of tragedy. In other words, they are a sort of allegory to the hope of Easter that was present on Good Friday.

Why talk about this contrast, this dichotomy, today on Palm Sunday?

The reason - this day itself is one of contrasts. Our liturgy and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, began with palm branches and songs of joy and praise for Jesus as King. He is welcomed into the city with shouts of Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! He will soon leave the city walls as the lowest of the low: a scourged, half-dead wreck of a man; a criminal set to be executed.  Today’s liturgy launches from the lauding chants of ‘Hosanna’ to the lowest devastating chant of ‘Crucify him’.

Every moment of our lives gives us a chance to be one or other of the type of persons we encountered in the passion narratives. With God’s help, may we be like Simon and the woman at Bethany, Simon of Cyrene, and Joseph of Arimathea.  How can we be signs of hope in a world that cries out for it?  Are there people whose burden we have been unwilling to share? God calls us to be vessels of love, hope and hospitality, like those welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem

The stories of Palm Sunday are our stories. Sometimes we are even the voice of Jesus on the cross, weeping and asking; ‘My God, why have you abandoned me?’ Consider the past year we have gone through. We could not gather as a community to celebrate the Holy week. It has been a year of grief, loss, change and heartbreak. So much was taken from our communities - lives, hopes, and celebrations turned to dust. But so much bloomed in hope and love -opportunities, adjustments, and newfound community. From the wisdom of Palm Sunday, and the wisdom of the past year, we learn that we have the capacity to either bring joy or pain to one another.

As we journey with Jesus this week, as we contemplate these mysteries with grateful hearts, may we interweave each of our individual stories with the Greatest Story Ever Told.  After all, that is the pattern of every human life --- a pattern, a mystery, a profound truth we encounter and embrace.  

Have a blessed Holy Week everyone. 

 

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