TEXT: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, March 20, 2016

March 22, 2016 Father De Celles Homily

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

March 20, 2016

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA


One day they shouted:

““Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

But only a few days later they shouted: “Let him be crucified!”


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?


Or will you make this week, truly a Holy Week, as the Church names it?

Remember, the Greek word that we translate as “holy”

is a word that literally means “set apart.”

So let this week be truly holy—set apart,

radically different from every other week of the year.


Every day, take time to think and pray, if ever so briefly, but constantly,

about the Lord’s Passion.

Feel compassion for his terrible suffering, and sorrow for your sins that cause it.

And feel his incomparable love for you, and your love for him in return.


And think: let your intellect, guided by faith and grace,

lead you to understand more fully the incredible mystery of God’s love

that allows Him, Our Creator, to pay on the Cross for our sins against Him.

And come to understand more clearly the truth of the depravity of those sins.


Let the emotions of this week crack through the hardness of your hearts,

and let the understanding of truth enlighten the darkness of ignorance.


But this week is not just about mere feelings or reason.

God created us in the beginning, in flesh and blood.

And so he came to us in the flesh as a baby,

and spoke to us and performed miracles in the flesh.

And he allowed whips and thorns and nails and a sword

to tear the flesh of his back, skull, hands, feet and heart.

And his blood to pour out for our sins.


This week, then, we must live out our sorrow for and understanding of

the Lord’s suffering in our own 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.


And there’s something else important we need to do in the flesh this week.

All this week the Church offers us unique beautiful liturgies

that help us to walk with Jesus in his hour of need

and to stand with the Blessed Mother, and John and the Magdalene

at the foot of His Cross.


In today’s first reading St. Paul tells us:

“Jesus…did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at

[—or “cling to”—].

Rather…he humbled himself… to the point of death…on a cross.”

This week, what will you grasp at or cling to

as more important than your beloved suffering Jesus?

Will you cling to work, or busy schedules or sports or even school?

Or this one week, this holy week,

will you humble yourself, to cling to the Cross of Christ.


So I ask you right now, to promise Jesus—right now—

that you will come to one or more of the holy week liturgies or sacraments?

If you haven’t been this Lent, will you finally come to confession?

Will you come to daily Mass at on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday—or all 3?

Will you promise Jesus to come to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday,

to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood,        and to watch and pray afterwards with the Lord

like the apostles in the garden of Gethsemane?

Will you come on Good Friday at 3 o’clock, the hour of the Lord’s Death,

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?

Or will you cling to work or school, or personal convenience or comfort,

as more important than reverencing the most holy moment in all of history?


And, finally, how many will commit in their hearts right now, to come

to the 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, at every moment—in your minds and hearts,

and in your bodies as well: at work, at home, and here in church.

Do not let this let this most sublime week of love ever in human history

be just like any other week of the year.

Let this week be different, set it apart, and let it be for you a truly HOLY WEEK.