Sermon: Palm Sunday

Homilies this year are short and to the point. If you want 45 minute exegesis, then try somewhere else…

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

The branches that are blessed and brought home on Palm Sunday remind us that Lent is the slow coming of spring, the renewal of the natural order as we pass from the cold of winter to the light and hope of spring. We are now in the final days of Lent. On Thursday the Triduum begins (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday), bringing our Lenten journey to its climactic celebration on Easter Sunday Morning with the Easter Vigil and the singing of the Exsultet. Today, the liturgy invites us to contemplate the face of the suffering Lord.

Jesus’ mission, purpose, goal and glory are revealed in his Passion. We encounter today the pure and perfect witness of God’s love. If you are tempted (and many are) to doubt God’s love, look at Christ crucified. Here the mystery of God’s love is revealed. St Augustine said, ‘God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love.’

Jesus would have died on the cross if there were only one of us to die for. Only his death, his sacrifice, his laying down of his life for us, could reconcile us with the Father, open heaven to us and secure for us life eternal, which was lost through the fall of Adam.

We lost the divine life through the disobedience of one man; we recover the divine life through the obedience of one man. The remarkable and humbling reality of the cross is that Jesus is both priest and victim. He is both the perfect priest (since he did not sin) and the perfect victim (since he was blameless and pure).

At home today, take some time today to re-read the Passion story we have just heard from the Gospel of Matthew: read it quietly and privately. It is in these moments when we reach out to the Lord that the Lord reaches out to us.

St Paul wanted to know Christ and Christ crucified; he gloried in the cross, rejoiced in it and boasted in it. In these moments of prayer and reflection we allow the Holy Spirit to work within us the same love that Paul had for the cross of Jesus.

Church Father Theodore of Studios meditated on this paradox:

“How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life not death; light, not darkness; paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord. Like a great warrior, was ‘wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree had destroyed us. a tree now brought us life.’