Sunday, 14 April 2019 : Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after going through five weeks and more of the season of Lent, a time of preparation and rediscovery of our faith, we finally come to the beginning of the Holy Week, when we celebrate the most important moments and mysteries of our faith, commemorating that very moment when salvation came into our midst, through none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of all.

Christ was the Saviour promised by God to all His people, the culmination of the grand plan He has revealed to man, ever since the beginning of time, when man first fell into sin and because of that, sundered from the fullness of God’s love and grace. And God fulfilled His promises perfectly and completely in Christ, the One He sent into this world, bringing the salvation and true hope into our midst, that we may all be saved.

And this Holy Week, we enter into the most crucial moment in all the history of the whole world and our whole existence, the moment when God completed His plan of salvation, by none other than the Passion, suffering and death of His own Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. And on this Palm Sunday, the day that marks the beginning of Holy Week, we enter and immerse ourselves into the very important events that mark that moment of our salvation through Christ.

On this day, we heard from the readings of the Scripture, two very opposing and contradictory accounts, of what happened on the actual day when the Lord Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem in glory, which we commemorate with the blessing of palms and procession on this day, with the account of the suffering and death, the crucifixion of the same Lord Jesus on the cross, which happened just merely a few days apart.

In the Gospel passage which related to us what happened when the Lord Jesus came to Jerusalem for the time of the Passover, we heard how the people gathered to welcome the Lord Jesus as if He was a glorious and conquering King, entering the city of His reign, with palms raised and garments spread along the way on which He would enter on a donkey, as prophesied by the prophets. This event reminded us all that indeed, Jesus Christ is our Lord and King, the One Who has been promised to us, as our one and true Master.

But His kingship is not like any other kingship. He Himself mentioned on a few occasions throughout the accounts of the Gospels on the events of the Holy Week. He mentioned before His disciples, when they wanted to defend Him as He was being betrayed by Judas Iscariot and was about to be arrested, that had His heavenly Father wished it, He could have sent legions of Angels to protect Him. And before Pilate, Jesus Himself said that His kingdom was not of this world.

And this is why, many of the people abandoned Him, betrayed Him and rejected Him. And do we all realise that it was the very same people who welcomed, praised, glorified and sung ‘Hosanna! Hosanna to the Son of David!’ that just a few days later cried out before Pilate, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ and ‘We have no king but Caesar?’. This is because many among them did not have true faith in God, but were following their own selfish, wicked and sinful desires.

Some certainly followed the Lord to be famous, while others misunderstood and thought of Christ and His kingdom as one like of this world, and therefore, hoped to gain popularity, power, prestige, and all sorts of other worldly recognitions and pleasures, as what two of His own disciples showed us, when St. James and St. John, the sons of Zebedee came up to Him with their mother asking for special favours over that of the other disciples.

And the others had various other reasons, many of whom were motivated by the desire of self-advancement, self-praise, self-gratification and other forms of worldly desires, that indeed quickly turned from one of apparent faith and dedication, into one of betrayal, as Judas did, and into apathy and lack of conviction to defend their faith, as what many of the people did, easily following the popular sentiment, of what was first the popularity of Christ in acclaiming Him as King and then condemning Him when the tide of events turned against Him.

Even Christ’s own disciples fled in fear and abandoned Him. And in the accounts, we heard how this King of ours, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, turned from complete glory into utter humiliation, that He was not just stripped from His dignity as even a human person, but even treated in the worst manner possible, and made to suffer the worst of the worst of injustices and treated as the worst and lowliest of criminals for sins and mistakes He did not commit.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, before we continue further, we ought to spend some time now to reflect on our own lives, on our own actions, on our own faith in God, on our own way of following the Lord and how we have lived our faith life all these while, especially as Christians, as those who profess to have faith in God. And we ought to remember that we are truly perhaps, just as terrible as those same people whom we just talked about earlier, all those who betrayed, abandoned and left the Lord behind for our own selfish desires, gain and purposes.

Many of us seek the Lord only to feel good and high, and perhaps seeking that spiritual satisfaction and fulfilment, or any other means to satisfy ourselves and to make ourselves feel good. And we often only remember the Lord when we have a vested interest, a desire that we want Him to fulfil, in our wishes and prayers, that when all those things have been fulfilled, or in the case when they were not fulfilled, we left the Lord behind and abandoned Him.

Many of us live our Christian life in most un-Christian like manner. Many of us only thought of fulfilling the barest minimum of our obligations as Christians, in coming for and attending the celebrations of the Holy Mass every Sundays of the year, and not more than that. And in this case, many of us even struggled to fulfil this barest minimum of what the Lord has called us all to do. We only hoped and wished what was best for ourselves, and not wanting to make the sacrifices for the Lord.

And even though we call ourselves Christians, how many of us continue to do what is wicked, sinful and unbecoming of ourselves as Christians? How many of us continue to act in manner that is selfish, greedy, condescending towards others, and being ignorant of the sufferings and troubles that others experience, often because of our own actions? How many of us continue to succumb to the temptations of the flesh and acted immorally, causing scandal within our own families and communities?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the sad and unfortunate reality of our world, and especially our Christian world today. Many of us profess to be faithful to God, and yet, our hearts and minds are not completely attuned and focused on Him. We are still so easily swayed by the many temptations of the world, of desire for power, glory, fame, renown, human praise and the pleasures of the body and mind, that we can easily abandon our faith or not having true faith in God, as how the Israelites and the people at the time of Jesus had done.

Yet, it is to all of us, these delinquents, rebels, stubborn and hardhearted people that Christ has come, to deliver us all from all these attachments to sin and our wickedness. He, Who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, willingly emptied Himself of all glory and honour, taking up not just the humble appearance of a Man, like us, but even more so, to be humiliated, ridiculed, rejected and made to suffer, enduring the worst of punishments, so that by all of that sacrifice and selfless giving of Himself, He may free us all from our sins and bring us to the salvation He promised us.

Every wounds that had been inflicted on Christ’s body, as He endured all the unimaginably painful suffering throughout the moments of His Passion, are in fact all of our imperfections, mistakes, our sins and rebelliousness, all of our iniquities and faults, all of our refusal to obey the Lord’s will and our selfishness. Every time we sin, we are causing that wound in the Body of Christ to fester and be even more painful, even as He endured it all and bore the burden of our sins on His cross.

Christ, in truth, showed us all, what it truly means for us to be Christians. First of all, all of us must be filled with love, the love for God and the love for our fellow brothers and sisters. It was love for His Father and the love that He has for each and every one of us, even the greatest and most wicked of sinners, that allowed Christ to endure the bitter and terrible pain of His suffering and death on the cross. Without His enduring love and compassion for us, God would not have done everything all the way to suffer death just that all of us may live.

And as Christians, we must be humble, and the greater we are, the humbler we are to be before God and men alike. For Christ Himself said, that He came not to be served, but to serve, and He showed His disciples at the Last Supper, what they ought to be doing to one another, loving one another as brothers and sisters, and to care for each other with true and genuine love. The Lord did not allow pride and ego to be in the way, and just as He rejected Satan’s advances through the temptations he attempted on the Lord, we too should cast aside our own pride and ego.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we journey through the Holy Week, let us all delve deeper into our understanding of our faith and our own relationship with God. If all these while, we have been distant and have not been spending our time with God, because of the many distractions and temptations we faced in life, then now is the perfect opportunity for us all to reorientate ourselves and to rediscover our true purpose in life, not for our own self-glory, but rather, for the greater glory of God.

Let us all grow deeper in our faith and in our conviction and dedication to love the Lord and to serve Him through our actions and deeds in life, that are pleasing to Him. Let us all also follow the Lord wholeheartedly from now on, carrying our own crosses with Him. He has called us and we should respond to His call. Let us all turn to Him with all of our hearts and with all of our might, and embrace the great love He has for us, that He was willing to suffer and die, just that we may live and not perish.

May the Lord continue to bless us all and may He continue to guide us as we continue to progress through this holiest of all periods and times of this year. May He sow in us all the seeds of faith, hope and love, so that we may grow ever deeper in faith, ever more hopeful in our lives, and be ever more filled with love at all times of our lives. May God be with us all, now and always. Amen.