Homily, 29 March 2015 (Palm Sunday)
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At the Procession with Palms - Gospel Mk 11:1-10Jesus sent the disciples into the village … telling them what to do and what to say … and described events as they would unfold.That’s not the normal way of things. It seems more is at work here – more than simple human activities.—————In ancient times, beginning with the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden, God’s wisdom and power has worked in subtle ways, through nature, through historical events, and through people -- men and women both great and small.It was all directed by his love, to see that his people would someday find their way back to paradise, sharing once again in the fullness of the divine life.Yet so often, people resisted God’s initiative. They tried to take different paths, paths that led away from paradise. Paths that God knew would lead to death, not to life. And so God would intervene and guide them once again by another path toward his goal, following his providence.—————But today we come to the fullness of God’s plan for our salvation. This is the path God set for his people. It is the climax and though men resist, this final journey is inevitable. God’s will be done.We begin this journey with a joyful procession: a procession of palms, shouts of Hosanna!We will end this journey with a sorrowful procession: the way of the cross and the crucifixion.It is a journey that the Son of God must make for us, and it is God’s plan to return to paradise all who long to be counted among his people.Let us accompany our Lord on this final journey.Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalms 22:8-9,17-18,19-20,23-24; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47 *** Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness… *** At every mass during the preparation of the gifts, the deacon or the priest pours wine and a little water into the chalice saying quietly: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” Many times when I say these words, I also think of the passage we just heard from Paul’s letter to the Phillipians: “Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness…” What a profound mystery. Without becoming man, God would still know everything about what it means to be human. There are no mysteries for God. So why did one person in the Trinity become man? Jesus came to atone for our sins and to reopen the gates to eternal life, we know that … but there was more to the mystery of the Incarnation than the Atonement. Jesus was “Emmanuel – God with us,” who humbled himself to share in our humanity because we need assurance that God knows what it means to be human; to share life with us in a world of sin: to be tired & hungry, loved & befriended, happy & content, to be alone & sad, cursed & hated, to be tortured and killed. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Christ passion is no less than this: the great sign of God’s providential love for us. *** Holy week has begun, the days of the Triduum are almost upon us. Be mindful of the mysteries to be celebrated this week as you go about your ordinary tasks in the coming days. Find time to reflect and time to pray, for the liturgies we will celebrate are not just reminders of historical events that anchor our faith -- of something that happened a long time ago -- but of the mystery of what is still happening -- now, for each one of us. We ought not to be looking back to the past, but forward to the future, full of hope knowing that God is still with us, still Emmanuel. As Jesus shared communion with us by taking on our humanity, we too must share communion with each other, expressing in our own words and actions God’s love to all, in a world too often beset with darkness instead of light. Today and everyday since the time of the Passion, God reaches out to us giving us grace and hope. Inviting us, through the mysteries we celebrate in a special way this week, to receive a share of his divinity.