Sunday, April 9, 2017

Man, Does It Feel Good To Come Out of the Desert!

Palm Sunday (Yr A) 2017
Ss. Peter & Paul, Danville
Man does it ever feel good to be coming out of the desert!

Six weeks ago, we got out of the boat and into the desert – remember?  We went into the hot, dry, barren desert with Jesus – leaving behind all the things that try to leave us dead in the desert.  And as soon as we got into the desert, Jesus took us up a high mountain. Why?  So that we could be transformed – seeing Jesus more clearly for who He is transformed us so we could complete the rest of the journey through the desert of Lent to new life at Easter!  

And then we went on an adventure. Jesus found us thirsty at the well, and gave us the water of life.  Jesus found us blind from birth, and restored our spiritual sight. He found us dead – dead in our sin – dead and locked away – He found us dead, and restored us to life.  And all of that – all of that to bring us here…to the precipice of Holy Week – to the celebration of the great days.  In Lent, we got out of the boat and into the desert, where we were transformed, we found living water and began to see, and we are being brought back to life.  

Man – does it ever feel good to be coming out of the desert…

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Coming out of the desert we hang our banners high, the music greets us once again, we march around town and around the Church celebrating the arrival of the King – our King!!  All Glory Laud and honor to You Redeemer King!! We’re excited – we’ve made it out of the desert – we’ve found our king – He is triumphant – we are SAVED!!!!  

And…that lasts about 15 minutes.  As quickly as the children of Israel turned on God and Moses after being delivered from Pharaoh – more quickly, actually – we turn on Jesus.  In the space of 15 minutes we go from all glory laud and honor to Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!  

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Like all the worst stories in human history, our celebration of friendship with Jesus becomes a brutal betrayal.  The first time I ever really paid attention to the parts I read in the pews on Palm Sunday, I was overwhelmed by confusion. He’s my friend – He’s my king – I love Him – I’ll follow Him anywhere!  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 that line up with our speaking parts on Palm Sunday.  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, 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!

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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 worthily receive His Body and Blood from this altar, and focus ourselves on offering the true worship of joyful, contrite, open and loving hearts.  Hosanna to the King of Kings!!!

But what about those times we miss Mass out of simple unwillingness to be inconvenienced?  We cling to more than we need and leave others in desperate want.  We love as long as it feels good or reject the teachings of the Church the moment it asks something of us that we don’t like.  We hide our sin from Confession, spiting in the face of Love Himself when we receive His sacred Body and Blood unworthily.  We sit at Mass the way we sit in a movie theater, passively going through the motions, overlooking the divine realities taking place.  Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!

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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 in His last breaths He felt abandoned and alone?  “…why have you forsaken me?”

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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 or our “Crucify Him” – the story we tell today – 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, our sin is overcome and the crucifixion pierces us with Love and earns for us a place in that kingdom where we become wholly, completely and forever among the parade of faithful witnesses ringing out Hosanna to the King!  

The story isn’t our betrayal.  The story is this:  Jesus wins!! Jesus wins in our lives!  Love wins in our lives! Even our own hypocrisy can’t destroy the power of this King’s love and mercy!  Hosanna to the King!

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