Homily Palm Sunday Year B Follow Jesus to the cross and resurrection

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Homily Palm Sunday Year B

 

Gospel for the blessing of palms

 

In this Gospel passage we read where the crowds on their way to Jerusalem hailed Jesus as the potential Messiah, waving branches and laying their outer garments for his to pass over on the donkey he was riding. Symbolically, he was seen as a warrior king, who was triumphantly entering Jerusalem. Hosanna to the Son of David.  It was the excitement of victory and celebration.

 

But the focus of this event in Jesus’ life was really the cross and resurrection. This was the hour in which he will confront the rule of Satan and inflict a mortal wound. Jesus’ death would be the defeat of a pseudo-power Satan had over the world from the first sin of Adam and Eve. In his own temptations in the desert, which we reflected on in the beginning of Lent, Jesus laid the gauntlet down. He chose to trust the Father and to do the will of the Father than seek self-satisfaction or power.

 

So immediately after our short focus on Jesus’ triumphant entrance into the city, we begin to look towards the true high point of Jesus’ life—his death on the cross for our salvation and his resurrection prefiguring our destiny with him in eternal glory.

 

Reading 1: Centuries before the passion of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied about what will take place to the Suffering Servant of God, whom God will send to save the world from the eternal effects of sin. “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” These are some of the sufferings Jesus experienced on our behalf.

 

We are reminded that Jesus’ suffering and death were not imposed upon him from outside. As he said at different times, “I lay down my life freely and I take it up again.” The focus for Jesus was the will of the Father. “He opens my ears that I may hear; I have not rebelled.” All his sufferings he endured, he embraced freely, all the while keeping his eyes on the Father, trusting himself to the Father. “I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

 

Reading 2: Here Paul reminds us that the focus of Jesus is not so much the cross, but upon the will of the Father. Where the first sin was a refusal to embrace the will of God for Adam and Eve, the Son of God out of love for the Father and us, emptied himself of his divinity. He took upon himself our human nature, becoming one like us in all things except sin. He totally embraced the will of the Father even to accepting death on the cross for our salvation. God raised him up and exalted him at his right hand, where all will acknowledge him as Lord and Messiah, giving glory to God.

 

The focus of Jesus was the will of the Father, not primarily the cross.

 

Gospel: The passion and death of Jesus for our sake. The crowd on Palm Sunday sang his praises. The crowd on Good Friday demanded his death by crucifixion. On Palm Sunday they honored him as a King coming in victory. On Friday they mocked, ridiculed him, rejecting him as king. On Palm Sunday the disciples went before him, enjoying being with him and hearing the acclaim of the crowd. On Friday all fled from him for fear of being arrested and crucified with him. All deserted him except for Mary his mother, John and a few faithful women. The Jesus of Palm Sunday is the same Jesus as Good Friday. His human nature on Sunday is the same human nature on Friday.

 

The question is not so much what others did then but what we do now. How often we may act one way on Sunday but opposite on other days during the week? How often de we verbally acclaim and praise God but with same voice and tongue we used his name in vain? How often externally we go thru the motions but internally think and live differently?

 

The real question is does what happened on Palm Sunday and Good Friday result in Easter Sunday and on in our lives? Has our journey begun on Ash Wednesday truly prepared us to enter into Jesus’ death and resurrection so that with him we too can live the Easter life now and eternally?

 

Will today be just another day? Will Friday be just another Friday? Will Easter be another holiday? Or will something radically be different because of our experience of Jesus today, Friday and Easter? Jesus went through a change in his human body from death to resurrected glory. Will we experience a change in our life? Will there be any death to sin and new life in Christ? If not, we will continue to shout Hosanna on Sunday, crucify him on Friday and deny his resurrection on Sunday by our life style and daily decisions.  To be the believing disciples of Easter Sunday, we must not only follow him on Palm Sunday, but like the few faithful disciples, stand under the cross on Friday weeping for our sins and the sins of the world.

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