CHRIST SUFFERED TO GIVE US LIFE OUT OF LOVE
Today, my dear people of God, is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is the last Sunday of Lent, and commemorates the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem, days before he was crucified. It is a dramatic week when we recall vividly the final events in the life of Jesus. This is the week when the full price for our sins was paid and humanity was restored to friendship with God. Holy Week gives us an opportunity to accompany Jesus on his final journey to the cross, wherein he obtained for us victory over sin and death. On that journey he suffered betrayal, torture, crucifixion, and death. It gives us an insight into the fickleness of the human heart and the immense compassion of God. I greet all of you participating in this Mass from home. It is quite disheartening that we are experiencing the Holy Week this Year from home. Most of you would have loved to be present physically but for the precaution against the spread of the corona virus. In all we give God the glory and thank him for a time like this; a time he has chosen us to share in His Passion through our moments of suffering, fear and uncertainties. We know he will work all things for our good. May our participation at this Mass bring us peace, joy and blessings through Christ our Lord. Amen.
2. THE READINGS: (Isaiah 50:4-7 Philippians 2:6-11 Matthew 26:14–27:66): The Readings of today and the Passion Narrative brings to mind once more the identity and the mission of Jesus. They tell us that He is the Messiah who was sent to save us from sin and death and show us the way to the Father. The passion drama speaks to us in ways that are both very personal and universal. We are told in the Gospel we read from that the people waved Palm branches to welcome Jesus. Palms were leaves of triumph, much like flags people wave today when a Head of State visits. They did not have flags in those days but people waved Palms to honor Jesus as he came toward Jerusalem after raising Lazarus. We all know those same people turned on Him a few days later in His Passion. So the Palms remind us of three truths:
First, they remind us of human inconsistency, how quickly people can affirm you today and despise you tomorrow. How today’s acclaim can become next month’s ridicule. If we live our lives dependent on human acclaim, popular opinion, we are building on the wind. We are bound to become sad, disappointed, depressed and frustrated. Our lives must be dependent only on God’s approval.
Secondly, the Palms place us within the Passion account. The characters of the Passion are not creatures from outer space. They represent us. Through our reading of the Passion, we can identify with Peter’s denial, with Judas’ betrayal, with the disciples’ flight, with Pilate’s cowardice, with the leaders’ cynicism or with the crowd’s mindless frenzy. We all have a place in the Passion story. We are Peter when we are not bold enough to stand for what we believe in. We are Peter when we chicken out in the defence of our faith and the doctrines of the Church; when we allow the various challenges that come our way to make us lose faith in the power of God to save us; we are Peter when we compromise our belief in other to please the world. We are Judas when we lose confidence in the power of God to forgive us our many sins. We are Judas when we betray others. We are Judas when we work for the downfall of our neighbour. We are Judas when we are jealous, when we backbite and when we hate. Moreover, we are Pilate when in positions of authority we work to please a section of the people. We are Pilate when we deny people fair hearing and justice. We are Pilate when we work to secure our lives, family and job caring less for the plight of the people under our charge. Finally, we are the crowd when we let our emotions get the best of us; when we join others in doing evil because we cannot beat them; when we join people to condemn others without getting the facts right; when we spread false information to incite people to violence and anarchy.
Thirdly, the Palms remind us of Christ’s love. Despite all the people did to Him, Jesus died for all of them. His love, His truth, His forgiveness, His grace are foundations on which we can rely. Despite our failures, our weaknesses, our shortcomings; we can still have a new and strong life because of his Love. So let us be quick to return to his love by asking for pardon for all our sins and offences and begging for the grace to live a holy and humble life.
3. ON THE NEED TO HELP THE POOR AND THOSE IN NEED
My dear people of God, this has been a painful period for all of us. The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to the suspension of public Masses and other liturgical celebrations in the Church. It is a decision in line with the respect for life and to forestall the spread of the virus. The present death toll in the world is very troubling and the daily increase in the number of new infections further heightens our fears. We are a people of faith, our faith in God will never fail us. Do not be afraid because God is with us even in this most difficult time.
We use this medium to call for more prayers to God for an end to this pandemic. We continue to commend the efforts of our Government and Medical personnel who are on the front lines of fighting the spread of the virus. We ask God to protect and bless them. We encourage all citizens to continue to maintain good personal hygiene and sanitary practices; observe social distancing and crowded places. With these we can stop the spread of the virus. We equally encourage all priests, Religious and lay faithful to look out for the needs of those who are poor in our midst. There are many living in our midst who depend on daily income from sales of their products to sustain themselves and their families. We must show great concern for these people. We appeal to everyone to endeavor to reach out to the poor around us and as you do so may God bless and replenish your purse.
4. CONCLUSION: My dear brothers and sisters as the Church celebrates the liturgies of this Holy Week, we are reminded always that we can fail the Lord like those people of Jerusalem and that we all need the grace and power from His passion to stay faithful and loyal to God. Palm Sunday and the Passion teach us that whatever lies in our future, Jesus has been there first. Jesus did not die to save us from suffering. He died to teach us how to suffer – with complete faith and trust in God. He knows and shows the way that will lead us to the resurrection at Easter and in eternity.
May the graces of this Holy Week put an end to the current spread of the Corona Virus in our land, heal those who are sick, and grant eternal rest to all who have died. May it increase the blessings of God in our lives and family, as we ask the intercession of our Mother Mary, the mother of sorrows, to accompany us on our journey this week and all through life. May the blessing of God the Father, the love of God the Son and the Communion of God the Holy Spirit come down upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.
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