Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
April 10, 2022
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.”
“Crucify him! “Crucify him!”
What a radical difference.
The crowd cheering their messiah one day,
is the same crowd crying for His blood only days later.
The same disciples walking with Him in the procession of palms,
are the disciples who abandon Him to the whip and the cross.
And yet, there were a faithful few who stayed with Christ:
His Blessed Mother, St. John, St. Mary Magdalene
and Mary the mother of James and Joses,
and the other holy women.
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 “crucify Him,”
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,
5 seconds here, 30 seconds there, five minutes….
thinking, praying if every so briefly, but constantly,
about how Christ loved us so much and how he suffered for our sins.
Live in the spirit of Christ’s suffering all week.
But the Church Jesus founded is not just a Church of spirit.
God the Son, the Eternal Word, with His Father and Holy Spirit,
created us in the beginning, in the flesh.
And so He came to us in the flesh as a baby,
and spoke to us in the flesh
words that still ring in our fleshy ears 2000 years later.
And he suffered and died in the flesh.
And gave us His flesh to eat.
We, His people, may be called to live spiritually, but we do that in the flesh.
This week then we live out our sorrow for our sins
and our Love for Christ crucified
through the actions of our bodies:
by speaking a kind word or a true word, rather than a cruel word or a lie;
by giving a helping hand, rather than the back of our hand;
by being generous with our time and stuff, rather than greedy,
being chaste, rather than yielding to lust.
But there’s something else important we can do this week with our bodies.
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 Mary, John and the Magdalene at the foot of the Cross.
In many of the protestant denominations they have what they call an “altar call”:
they invite people to come forward to the front of the church
to profess their faith in Jesus.
Today I’m going to do something like that.
But instead of calling you to come up here right now,
I’m going to call you to come back to this church,
or some other Catholic church, this week.
To take the time out of your O-so-busy-schedule to be with Jesus.
Now, you don’t have to raise your hands or shout out—please don’t shout out–:
but I ask you right now, in your hearts,
how many promise—right now—talk to Jesus, not to us—
to come to one or more of the Holy Week liturgies?
How many will come to confession,
or daily Mass on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday–or all 3?
How many promise to come to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper Thursday evening,
for the anniversary of the institution of the Eucharist and Priesthood,
and watch and pray after Mass for an hour with the Lord in the garden?
How many will come on Good Friday’s afternoon
to stand in line to venerate the Holy Cross of Christ,
and to receive His crucified Body in Holy 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 week of remembering Christ’s suffering and death
—the 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.