HOMILY FOR PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD
HOMILY THEME: LET US BE PEOPLE WHO LISTEN TO GOD’S WORD AND ALLOW IT TO FORM US.
BY: Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence,
My sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
We enter Holy Week. Christ dies for us. Christ is raised for us. We walk with the Lord through His passion and death to rejoice in His Resurrection. This is the most sacred and wonderful week of our whole year. Let us be people who listen to God’s word and allow it to form us.
The first reading is from the Prophet Isaiah: “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.”
We also must not shield ourselves from the horror of the sufferings of Jesus. The more we can understand the absolute degradation of this death on the Cross, the more we can understand that which seems impossible: He rises from the dead. Today in our liturgy we look at His suffering. Yes, we know He will rise, but we leave that aside for now.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Philippians, again focuses us on death: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” The early Christians invite us to believe their testimony: he died.
The narrative of the Passion from the Gospel of Mark is a simple retelling of what the early Christians experienced and passed on to us. The simple details of anointing his head before death, the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, the preparation for the Passover meal, the celebration of the Passover meal, the institution of the Eucharist, the going to the garden and praying there, the arrival of Judas, the handing over, the condemnation, Peter’s denial, the way of the Cross, the crucifixion, the death, the burial. And so it was finished.
All hope seemed extinguished and gone. This is where we are today. All hope for our world, for our Saviour, for our faith— all seems extinguished and gone. Let us be in silence and trust in the Lord.
Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico