Palm Sunday - Yr B - 2015
Do you ever feel like a hypocrite on Palm Sunday? In the space of about 15 minutes we go from being a rejoicing crowd, giving ‘Glory, Laud and Honor’ to Jesus our ‘Redeemer King’ – to raising our voices to plot, complain, accuse, and mock the holy one of God, crying out ourselves for his murder and execution. Our praise and celebration of Jesus becomes Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
Like all the worst stories in human history, our love and celebration of friendship with Jesus becomes a brutal betrayal. The first time I ever really paid attention to the part I played in the pews as the Church commemorates Palm Sunday, I was overwhelmed by confusion. I felt like the star witness for the defense and the prosecution in some tense courtroom drama. He’s my friend – He’s my king – I love Him – I’ll follow Him anywhere – Look how awesome He is! Kill Him! Destroy Him! Murder Him! CRUCIFY HIM!
The enormity of it used to bring me to tears – but nothing quite like the sorrow that settled into my soul the first time I realized that, truly, in my life, I actually do and say things throughout my days that just as loudly proclaim both. We come easy to the palms and procession of this glorious day, dismissing or disconnecting from the part we play in the Passion. But the truth is, friends, if we take an honest look at our days, at what we do and say (and what we leave undone and unsaid), if we’re honest with ourselves we can recognize that the Church gives us these lines in the Palm Sunday drama because we've earned them. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. All Glory, Laud, and Honor and Crucify Him!
We come to Mass on Sunday; we trust Jesus in prayer; we share what we have with the needy; we love even when it hurts; we carry our burdens courageously; we hold as patiently to the community of the Church as He held onto the Cross; we trust Him with the honest sacramental confession of our sins; we worthily receive His Body and Blood from this altar, and focus ourselves on offering the true worship of joyful, contrite, open hearts. Hosanna to the King of Kings!!!
But what about those times we miss Mass and fail to offer prayers out of simple unwillingness to be inconvenienced? We hold on to more than we need and leave others in desperate want. We love as long as it feels good and give up on marriage, and Church, and faith the moment it asks something of us that we don’t like or is different than what it always has been. We hide our sin or stubbornly believe there is some way to deal with sin apart from Confession and so spit in the face of Love Himself when we receive the sacred Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, knowing we’re unworthy and unprepared to do so. We sit at Mass the way we sit in a movie theater, distracted, going through the motions, overlooking the divine realities taking place – that is, if we even manage to stay awake. Crucify Him! Crucify Him!
Is it any wonder that at the end of it all – in His divine mind able to see the entirety of human experience – aware of the ways you and I would ignore, resist, and work against the very love His pain and agony offers us – is it any wonder that with His last breaths He felt abandoned and alone? “…why have you forsaken me?”
How will you spend the rest of this Holy Week?
Will you finally, after all this time, confess your sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Hosanna! Or hang on to whatever fear or illusion is keeping you from His love and mercy in the sacrament? Crucify Him!
Will you come to accompany the Lord through His passion, death, and resurrection by setting your priorities clearly on celebrating Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil with our community of faith – or at the very least keeping Vigil with prayers and Sacred Readings at home to mark these holy days? Hosanna! Or will you live this week just like any other week, blind to the sacred realities we celebrate? Crucify Him!
Friends – we are all joined together in the hypocrisy of Palm Sunday. We are all guilty. Thank God – THANK GOD – this is a story, this is a day, this is a celebration of who Jesus is and not who we are! Because, the story doesn't end with our hypocrisy – the story doesn't end with our fickle, two-faced transformation. The story, the celebration, the Good News is that the pain and agony of the Cross, the humiliation and betrayal of the same people who welcome Christ as King becoming the ones who crucify Him with their words and actions (with our words and our actions) – this story, this celebration, this Good News is that Love wins!
Day after day, if we let ourselves be pierced by the Mercy that flows from the Passion and Death of the Lord, sin is overcome in our lives and the crucifixion earns for us a place in that kingdom where we become wholly, completely and forever the parade of faithful witnesses ringing out Hosanna to the King!
Jesus wins in our lives! Love wins in our lives! Hosanna to the King!