Homily for Palm Sunday Year C (1)

Homily for Palm Sunday Year C

Theme: The passion and death of Christ

By: Fr. Jude Chijioke

Homily for Sunday April 10 2022

Readings: Isaiah 50, 4-7; Philippians 2, 6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56

“When day came the council of elders of the







Homily for Palm Sunday Year C

Theme: The passion and death of Christ

By: Fr. Jude Chijioke

Homily for Sunday April 10 2022

 

Readings: Isaiah 50, 4-7; Philippians 2, 6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56

“When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin. They said: “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he replied to them: “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond. But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” They all asked: “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them: “You say that I am” (Lk 22).

“One of the criminals said: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him: “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Lk 23).

Within the liturgy of this passion Sunday, Luke our evangelist wants to trace in the face of the patient Christ features of a martyred prophet, a model for persecuted Christians of the first century. In fact, if we read the narration of Stephen’s martyrdom elaborated by Luke himself in chapter 7 of his second work, the Acts of the Apostles, we realize that it is based on the passion and death of Christ.

However, for Luke, Jesus is not just a simple prophet or a witness (martyr) among thousands down the history of salvation. Rather, He received His prophetic Spirit on the day of the solemn inauguration of his mission, in the waters of the Jordan, with an extraordinary mandate from God: “You are my beloved son, in you I am well pleased” (3, 22). With this the narration of the Passion, the scene of the Jewish trial is significant. To the explicit question of the assembly of the Sanhedrin: “So you are the Son of God?”, Jesus replies immediately: “You say that I am!” Hence, Luke formulates the declaration of the divinity of Christ in such a precise way at this time. Jesus is under no illusions about the consequence of his answer, they will not believe him neither will they release him. But he cannot be silent. He must affirm that he is not only the Christ-Messiah expected by Israel, but the Son of God, with all the fullness that Luke attributes to this term. He will die of this revelation, but this death is the witness required by his mission, a way to be faithful to the father and of truth to his followers. His death as a prophet in Jerusalem is the end of his earthly mission, it is the bloody signature that he affixes to his message.”

Prophet, Priest, Martyr and the Son of God, the Jesus of the Passion is, according to Luke, also a model of the perfect person praying. The scene of the agony in the Gethsemane is built by Luke as a perfect representation of prayer. It is not for nothing that the whole passage is framed by an appeal, pronounced twice, at the opening and at the end: “Pray, so as not to fall into temptation.” Jesus’ prayer is always a dialogue of intimacy with the Father. Here is the sequence of phrases pronounced by Christ in those terrible hours, from the garden of Gethsemane to His last moment on the cross: “Father, not mine but your will be done … Father, forgive them because they do not know what they do … Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” The divine sonship of Jesus reappears but in a new form, in a relationship of intimacy and trust, in that explicit prayer which reached its apex precisely in the last words quoted only by Luke and taken from Psalm 31, 6, the expression of a total communion and abandonment to the will of the Father.
In the life of Jesus the Son of God and Son of Man, Luke the evangelist wants to trace the path a disciple must take in following the God. Among the many signs in this regard, we underline one, linked to the passion narrative today, that of the two criminals condemned with Jesus. Christ’s last earthly gesture is an act of forgiveness and love, an act offered in imitation to his disciples, just as forgiveness, love and mercy were the fundamental fabrics of the “Speech of the plain”, pronounced at the beginning of his public ministry. (Lk 6, 17-49). But there is more.
To the repentant evildoer Jesus promises: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” That “with me” is exactly the definition of a disciple, indeed, the sentence in substance was anticipated and destined by Jesus precisely to his disciples: “You are the ones who have persevered with me in my trials, and I prepare a kingdom for you, as the Father has prepared it for me” (22, 28-29). At the cross of Christ, in the figure of the “good thief”, is present me and you, “every disciple of Jesus” who is waiting to enter with him into the glory and peace of God.

Fr. Jude Chijioke

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