Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, April 13, 2014

April 13, 2014 Father De Celles Homily

Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
Springfield, VA

One day they shouted:
“Hosanna to the Son of David;
blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.”
But only a few days later they shouted: “Let him be crucified!”

What a radical difference.

The crowd cheering their messiah one day,
is the same crowd crying for his blood,
or abandoning him to the whip and the cross
only a few days later.

Today you are here worshiping, meditating and sorrowful
at the suffering of your beloved Jesus…
but this week will you abandon him?
Will you, by your sins, join the crowd shouting “Let him be crucified!”,
or simply leave him to the crowd because you’re too important or too busy.

All this week, this holy week, should be just that: HOLY.
In scripture the word in the original Greek that we translate as “holy” is hagios, which means “set apart.”
So let this week be truly holy—set apart,
radically different from every other week of the year.

Every day should be filled with the presence of Christ.
Every day, take time to meditate,
thinking, praying if ever so briefly, but constantly,
about how Christ loved us so much
and how he suffered for our sins.
Live in the spirit of Christ suffering all week.

But the Church Jesus founded is not just a Church of spirit.
God created us in the beginning, in the flesh.
And so he came to us in the flesh as a baby,
and spoke to us, and suffered and died in the flesh.

This week then we live out our sorrow for our sins
and our Love for Christ crucified
in our flesh:
by saying a kind word rather than a cruel word;
by giving a helping hand, rather than the back of our hand;
by being chaste, rather than yielding to lust.

But there’s something else important we can do this week in the flesh.
All this week the Church offers us wonderful sacraments
and unique beautiful liturgies to bring us to Christ,
to allow us to stand by him in his hour of need
—to stand with the Blessed Mother,
and John and the Magdalene
at the foot of the Cross.

Now, you don’t have to raise your hands or shout out;
but I ask you right now, in your hearts,
how many promise Jesus—right now—
to come to one or more of the holy week liturgies?
How many will come to confession,
or daily Mass at on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday—or all 3?
How many promise to come to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper Thursday evening,
for the washing of the feet
and the anniversary of the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and to stay and watch and pray afterwards with the Lord
like the apostles in the garden Gethsemane?
How many will come on Good Friday’s afternoon
for the powerful liturgy of the veneration of the cross,
to stand in line to kiss the cross of Christ,
and then to receive his crucified Body in Communion?
How many promise to pray the Stations of the Cross Friday night?
And how many will commit in their hearts right now, to come
to the greatest holiest most beautiful Mass of the Year Saturday night
—the Easter Vigil: the mother of all Masses,
the first celebration of the light of the Resurrected Christ
piercing the darkness?

Do not leave Christ behind in the church today,
or alone with the crowd this week.
Be with him all week—in your minds and hearts,
and in your bodies as well: at work, at home, and in church.
Do not let this let this most sublime week of love ever in the history of the world
be just like any other week of the year.
Let this be a week where you show your love for Christ
as no other time of the year.
Let this week truly be for you what it is supposed to be:
let it be a truly HOLY WEEK for you.