Detailed homily for Palm Sunday Year C
Theme: THE LORD HAS NEED OF IT
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka_
Homily for Sunday April 10 2022
R1 – Is 50:4-7
R2 – Phil 2:6-11
GOSPEL1- Lk 19:28-40
GOSPEL2- Luke 22:14-23:56
On Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865, the American Civil War ended, when the Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, General of the Union Army, at the McLean house in Appomattox, Virginia. This surrender ended the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. State against state, brother against brother, it was a conflict that literally tore the nation apart. Five days later, on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, America’s most revered president, Abraham Lincoln, was shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theatre. It was Lincoln who wrote the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery in the U.S. forever. It was Lincoln who wrote and gave The Gettysburg Address. Lincoln hated war, but he was drawn into this one because he believed it was the only way to save the nation. On Palm Sunday the war ended. Triumph. On Good Friday, Abraham Lincoln became the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Tragedy.
Beloved in Christ, today is Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday. Traditionally, Holy Week begins today.
Today’s liturgy invites us to remember and reflect on two contrasting moments of Christ’s triumph and tragedy; one of glory, the other of suffering; one of cheers and the other of jeers; his humanity and divinity; the royal welcome of Jesus in Jerusalem, and the drama of the trial, culminating in the crucifixion, death, and burial of the Christ
The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception Jesus received from his admirers, who paraded with him for a distance of the two miles between the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem while on a donkey. In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to and participate in a reading of the Passion of Christ according to Luke. The same people who chanted, ” _Hosanna Hosanna Filio David,”_ later swerved to chant, “crucify him, crucify him.”
*THE PARADOX OF PALM SUNDAY*
Fulton Sheen succinctly pointed out that the events of Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday, and preeminently, the request for the donkey embodies the paradox of the Incarnation: “the LORD has need of it.” That is why the overriding theme of today’s reflection, “The Lord has need of it,” could be regarded as a great paradox.
When we look at it, we realise that there is no greater paradox ever written than this – on the one hand the sovereignty of the Lord, and on the other hand his ‘need.’
This combination of Divinity and dependence, of possession and poverty was the consequence of the Word becoming flesh.
Truly, he who was rich became poor for our sakes, that we might be rich.
Our Lord borrowed a boat from a fisherman from which to preach; he borrowed barley loaves and fishes from a boy to feed the multitude; he borrowed a grave from which he would rise; and now he borrowed an ass on which to enter Jerusalem.
Sometimes God preempts and requisitions the things of man, as if to remind him that everything is a gift from him.”
*WHAT’S YOUR OWN VALUABLE?*
It is pertinent to observe that at the heart of the Lord’s borrowing of a donkey is that we all have a role to play in the history of salvation. God needs to make a “borrow” from the bounty and abundance of the gifts he has given you.
A vital and pertinent question that would connect us to today’s central message is: “What different story would we be telling today if the unnamed owners of the donkey had refused to give it up?” Maybe we would have no story of the triumphal entry, at least not in the way Jesus wanted it. No matter how unknown a person is, he or she can still play a crucial role in the unfolding of God’s plan.
A donkey was a very big thing in those days. The donkey was the equivalent of a car, a truck and a tractor all in one. It was a car because people used it to move around and do their shopping, a truck because it was used to carry load, and a tractor because it was used in cultivating the land. Add to this the fact that the donkey had never been ridden, that means it was brand new and had a very high market value. You can see that giving up the donkey just because the Lord needed it was a very big sacrifice. It was a generous and heroic act of faith.
Invariably, the Lord needs each one of us as he needed the unnamed owners of the donkey in the reading. We are not told who these owners of the donkey are but the fact that they understood that “the Lord” refers to Jesus and voluntarily gave up the donkey shows that they could be his secret disciples or admirers.
Sometimes we could wonder if our little deeds could make a difference in the long haul.
Maybe you have such question, too. All of us have a donkey. You and I, each have something in our lives, which, if given back to God, could, like the donkey, move Jesus and his story further down the road.
Whichever, your donkey belongs to him. It really does belong to him. Your gifts are his. So, what is the name of your donkey? The Lord has need of it.
*PALM/PASSION SUNDAY CHALLENGE*
We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the Passion story to know where we belong:
(i) How often have I acted like Judas betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver or something less than that… Doing too big for too little?
(ii) Have I like Pilate acted against my conscience and condemned the innocent for mere cheap popularity and human recognitions?
(iii) Have I ever ridiculed Jesus or allowed my shameful acts bring shame and disservice to Jesus and his church like Herod?
(iv) Have we as a group or community incited the masses against Jesus and his church and equally mounted pressure on pilate to crucify Jesus or my neighbours because of envy, jealousy and pride like the leaders and Pharisees?
(v) Have we been like the soldiers who flogged, beaten, ridiculed and made fun of Jesus or bullied and touched his anointed ones?
(vii) How often have I acted like Simon of Cyrene in aiding Jesus to carry the cross and his pains by avoiding and shying away from sin and iniquities?
(viii) Can I be as concerned as Veronica, the caring woman who wiped off his face?
(ix) Have I been so brutal as Caiphas to the righteous, the heartless leader, who organized a plot to kill Jesus and equally presided over the unjust and corrupt Sanhedrin trial of Jesus?
Finally, an interesting as well as challenging old fable tells of the colt that carried Jesus on Palm Sunday. The colt thought that the reception was organized to honor him. “I am a unique donkey!” this excited animal might have thought. When he asked his mother if he could walk down the same street alone the next day and be honored again, his mother said, “No, you are nothing without Him who was riding you.” Five days later, the colt saw a huge crowd of people in the street. It was Good Friday, and the soldiers were taking Jesus to Calvary. The colt could not resist the temptation of another royal reception. Ignoring the warning of his mother, he ran to the street, but he had to flee for his life as soldiers chased him and people stoned him. Thus, the colt finally learned the lesson that he was only a poor donkey without Jesus to ride on him.
Beloved, we are like the poor donkey in the epilogue story without Jesus. Every of our spiritual cum material gifts should be used to promote the service of God and His Kingdom. So, “the Lord has need of it.”
MAY THE GOOD LORD GRANT US A SPIRIT-FILLED HOLY WEEK CELEBRATION AND MAY THIS YEAR’S EASTER CELEBRATION DEEPEN OUR LOVE FOR THE TRIUNE GOD. AMEN!
*God bless you!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA._