Fr. Gerald Musa Homily for Palm Sunday Year C (2)

Fr. Gerald Musa Homily for Palm Sunday Year C


By: Fr. Gerald Musa

Homily for Sunday April 10 2022


Elections in Nigeria come up in 2023 and parties have begun their campaigns to set the stage for next year’s polls. Campaigns are going on with political parties and candidates are promoting themselves and castigating other parties and candidates who are in the race. What is even more interesting is the spectacle of rented crowds of supporters. Expectedly, we shall be witnessing how classical and modern spiritual melodies and vocabulary will be twisted into mundane campaign songs and slogans. We shall be hearing the most eloquent speakers who have the oratory skills that make candidates appear as demigods and as God-sent messiahs. We expect to see flamboyant politicians arrive at political rally venues with exotic state-of-the-art cars and distribute money to people in the market, people on the streets, and other segments of society. Politicians test their popularity by the number of people they were able to pull into their rallies. What is more, the contesting candidates will communicate symbolically in this power and popularity contest, saying to one another, “My crowd is bigger than yours.”

Unlike the typical politicians that we see around us, Jesus entered Jerusalem triumphantly amidst singing by a crowd of supporters. The rejoicing crowd that greeted Jesus was evidently not a rented crowd. People came out spontaneously and joyously to welcome him. They expressed their excitement as

[They] spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches
that they had cut from the fields. Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:8-10; cf. Matthew 21: 1-11; Luke 19:28-40).

It was a moment of glory and public acclamation for Jesus. Throughout his ministry, Jesus had always avoided the limelight and consistently refused to be seen as a celebrity. This time, He did not stop the people from celebrating Him because He was coming to the beginning of the end of His earthly ministry. Jesus accepted the cheers of the crowd even when He knew He was entering Jerusalem to lay down his life. He celebrated his kingship without allowing the fear of death to take away the joy of that moment. He knew death was only a rite of passage to glory and that the victory of evil over good is temporary. What is also remarkable about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was the fact that he entered as a prince of peace humbly riding on a donkey and not as a political king with war chariots (cf. Zechariah 9:9).

The last Sunday before Easter which is called Palm Sunday is celebrated to recall the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It is also called Passion Sunday to remember Jesus’ intense suffering, crucifixion, and death. His passion is what William Shakespeare would describe as “That deep torture [which] may be called hell when more is felt than one has to tell.” In his passion, he felt isolated, deserted, forsaken, and abandoned, and to God, he cried, “Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabacthani?” (My God, My God why have you forsaken me? – Mark 15:34)

The passion of Jesus is more than words can explain. He offered himself voluntarily as a Suffering Servant in these words: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help; therefore, I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50-6-7).

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul describes how this suffering servant: “Emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). Jesus experienced suffering and that explains why He was deeply compassionate in his ministry as He gave relief to those who were overburdened, healed the sick, consoled those who were grieving, and raised the dead. He taught us how to manage suffering, enemies, and death. According to Paul Claudel, “Jesus did not come to explain suffering, but to fill it with his presence.”

Palm Sunday is a day to reflect upon the significant moments of our life: the moments of Joy and Pain; struggles and success; battles and victories; pains and pleasures. It is also a day to reflect upon the sacredness of power. We pray that those who seek positions of authority can learn from Jesus who, despite his kingship, emptied himself, taking the position of a servant. We pray earnestly for our politicians and for ourselves who are leaders that they may know that all authority comes from God and that the voice of the people (voters) is the voice of God. May we learn from the humility of Jesus. Can we be Christ-like in submitting ourselves totally and constantly to the will of God? Holy Week ceremonies, which include Chrism Mass and Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are rich with meaning. Next Sunday is Easter Sunday and we look forward with joy to this great day.

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