HOMILY FOR PALM SUNDAY YEAR A
“When the great crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took palm branches and went out to meet him, and cried out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel (Jn 12:12–16).”
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the Holy Week during which the universal Catholic Church commemorates the Paschal Mystery of Christ, that is, His Passion, Death and Resurrection to which He willingly submitted Himself out of love for us.
It commemorates Jesus’ “triumphal” entry into Jerusalem which “manifested the coming of the kingdom that the King-Messiah was going to accomplish by the Passover of his Death and Resurrection. It is with the celebration of that entry on Palm Sunday that the Church’s liturgy solemnly opens Holy Week (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 560).”
Today’s Liturgy of the Blessing of the Palms and the Procession anticipate the triumph of Christ, a humble and gentle King who comes not by force but in peace, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 where the future messianic king is described as “humble”.
- The procession done before the Mass (in places where it is possible) symbolizes the welcoming of Jesus into his city by the children and humble of heart, cutting palm branches –a symbol of victory and of peace– and acclaiming Jesus as the Savior or Messiah.
- This fact is depicted by the use of the Hebrew word “Hosanna”, which originally is an appeal to God to “save us, His people” but was later used as a shout of joy, of acclamation and praise to mean “Long live” the Son of David, the Messiah, “who comes in the name of the Lord (Ps 118:16)” thereby proclaiming the kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
- However, as we see in the other Gospel, these shouts of Hosanna were transformed into Crucify Him. Those who acclaimed him, later on, condemned Him, thus not only showing us what our human nature is capable of, but also how Our Lord wants to teach us that suffering is an unavoidable fact of our life and Our Lord willing accepted his Passion and Death on the Cross out of love for us and our salvation.
- At the Last Supper, our Lord told us: “In the world you will have tribulation.” But then he also adds: But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
- With this confidence we must face all the difficulties we are experiencing right now. Let us not forget that after the Cross comes the Resurrection. “Our Lord has triumphed, so nothing should discourage us; indeed, his victory encourages us to renew our struggle with hope” so that our Hosannas will remain as such, and would not turn into “crucify Him”.
The question is: How could we convert all our actions into a Hosanna to Our Lord? An immediate practical way is to live the Holy Week in the best manner possible: to live it in a holy way.
Below you have some tips on how to do this:
- Make sure that you are in the state of grace. If not, go to the Sacrament of Confession; if priest is unavailable, pray an act of perfect contrition with the will to confess as soon as possible.
- Thank Our Lord for His total self-giving, dying on the Cross in order to save us; Accompany Him closely during these days through generous prayer and sacrifice in atonement of our sins and that of the whole world, meditating on the Gospel passages which narrate His Passion and Death to realize how much He loves you.
- Offer to Our Lord your sufferings which become a pleasing sacrifice if done out of faith, hope and love: illness, tiredness, the death of a love one or a friend; patience with thepeople who have character problems…and so on.
- Go to the Holy Week Services on Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday and Easter Sunday Mass and services. Pray often the spiritual communion.
- Struggle to live a holy life, not only during this Holy Week, but beginning again daily by avoiding sins which are the cause of Christ’s Passion and Death;
- Say many acts of love, of contrition and of thanksgiving; and of atonement and reparation for our sins and those of the entire humanity.
- Make life pleasant to the people around us, especially those who are in need, always forgiving for the offenses received; biting one’s tongue instead of answering back; doing acts of service to those around us; avoiding an impulsive character which irritate those with us.
- Corporal and spiritual Works of mercy: volunteering to whatever task to lend a hand during this crisis; giving food to those who do not have; cooking for them; distributing basic necessities; sewing face-masks and giving them out…and so on.
- Convert everything above into prayer by doing them for God out of love.
Dear brethren in Christ, may we also proclaim the kingship of Christ. May our “Hosanna” be shown in our renewed faith in Jesus, Our Lord, Savior and King, manifested not only in words but above all with deeds so that Christ would happily reign and remain in our soul and life.
A blessed Palm Sunday and Holy Week ahead. God bless! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo
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