Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our Mother the Church instructs her ministers that after the reading of the Passion narrative, “a brief homily, if appropriate, should take place”(22).
There is one thing that strikes me about this profound Gospel passage: Saint Peter followed him at a distance. This Sunday is like the final moments of our lives: it is a clear reminder to us of the important things in life. Our lives are very brief, and a total gift from God. We have no idea when He will call us home. Perhaps I will not live to see tomorrow, perhaps you will not. Certainly I hope we have some more time left on this earth. May our journeys on this earth be filled with good works, prayer, and sacrifice. The ultimate good work and the ultimate victory is our Lord’s death on the cross and it is in this good work that our good works find any meaning. Apart from our Lord, good works mean nothing.
His total and absolute sacrifice of love for you and for me. At the principal Mass of Palm Sunday there is a procession. We walk with the Lord and wave palm branches which signify these good works, our prayer, our sacrifices. So too in our lives, whether we find ourselves in the deepest darkest valley of unimaginable suffering or the peaks of great joy, we must walk with the Lord who has gone to the absolute depths of suffering. May our lives show our deep appreciation and gratitude for this sacrifice which we partake in every time we come to Mass. May we not follow our Lord at a distance, but rather remain close to His heart which is poured forth from the cross. May we never presume upon his mercy, but rather live our lives closely accompanying our Lord to the cross, for it is through the cross that He is victorious. This week let us read through the passion narratives and come to the Triduum services, and allow the Holy Spirit to deeply convict us, so that we too, each one of us may truly say with our lives: “Truly, this man was the Son of God!”
Thank you Lord for allowing yourself to be so treated: betrayed, abandoned, spit upon, tortured, your limbs stretched out in an agonizing way and pierced through with giant nails, a crown—a helmet of massive thorns shoved upon your head and your head hit with a rod, death by drowning in your own fluid and not breathing. We have done this to you every time we sin. You did this because you love each one of us and offer this gift of eternal life to us, and how do we treat you? So often we are indifferent. We want to get Mass over with. We don’t try to see you in our suffering neighbor. We rush through our prayers. We treat our bodies not as gifts of love but as objects of pleasure. What is more important than this ultimate gift of eternal life that our Lord gives to us? Our lives are fleeting and our Lord calls us to walk closely with Him. Let us make this final week, this Holy Week, truly a time where we can turn away from sin and walk with Him closely.
Here are some beautiful Palm Sunday antiphons: