Homily for Palm Sunday (B) (25th March, 2018) on the Gospel
Mk 14:1 – 15:47 or 15:1-39.
Today is known by different names because of different reasons. It is called the 6th or the Last Sunday of Lent because it comes after the 5th Sunday of Lent and also the Last Sunday before Easter. It is also called Palm Sunday because today Christians go to church with either palms or branches from other trees according to different regions of the world to commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as a King amidst the crowd who spread their clothes and tree branches on the road shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” cf. Matt 21:8-9. It is also called the Passion Sunday because the story of Christ’s suffering and death is read today.
This Sunday opens the Holy Week; the week we celebrate the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ in the last days of his earthly life, from his messianic entry into Jerusalem, until his blessed Passion and glorious Resurrection. Holy Week is dedicated to the celebration of penance. Lent continues until Maundy Thursday.
Topic: Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabachthani? (Mk 15:34).
Jesus prophesied a good number of times about His death and how it would happen, cf. Matt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19 among other passages. Even when Peter could not take it, He made him to understand that it is God’s will for him, cf. Matt 16:23. This same Jesus in today’s passion narrative cried bitterly: “Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabacthani?” meaning “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34). Based on these we ask: Could it be possible for God to forsake anybody?
In the prophet Isaiah God queried:
Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me (Is 49:15-16).
One man was seen as a model for other Christians. However one day his only son died. This man who had lost his wife long time ago cried bitterly and repeatedly queried: “God where are you when my only son died?” One day he heard a voice that replied to him: “Where I was when my only son died for the whole world.” God is always with us, cf. Matt 28:20; 1:23. If we trust in the Lord, we shall lack no good, cf. Ps 34:10.
It is important however to note that God did not make a promise to protect us from every difficulty but of delivering us from them. We read from the prophet Jeremiah: “They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you" (Jer. 1:19). The promise of God is to be always with us even when we suffer untold hardships. Even in that situation that you think that God has deserted you, He is there with you for He cannot say one thing and do another. Hence, the Psalmist called Him a faithful God, cf. Ps 31:5. God’s works are faithful and just, cf. Ps 111:7. And Saint Paul also wrote: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).
Today, the church brings together both Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem as King and the proclamation of His Passion. Christ triumphantly entered Jerusalem as a King while people waved the palms and other branches, some would not even allow the donkey’s feet to touch the ground, etc as signs of his victory over Satan. This victory could be seen as one to be fulfilled because He triumphantly entered Jerusalem in preparation for His death on the tree of the cross.
On a lighter mood, there is a story in Father Tomi Thomas’ book: Spice up your homilies about Stacy’s five-year-old son who could not go to church on a Palm Sunday as a result of sickness. When the family returned home carrying palm branches, he asked what they were for. And his mother explained, “People held them over Jesus’ head as he walked by”. “Wouldn’t you know it,” the boy said, “The one Sunday I don’t go, Jesus shows up!” (p. 85).
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, let us neither query like the man who lost his only son nor think like the boy who thought that Christ came only on the Sunday he did not go to church. God has not and will never forsake us. Just look unto Him with faith and He will surely make you see that He is still God, cf. Ps 46:10. As we commemorate his entry into Jerusalem, we ought to remember that He (Christ) wants a space in our lives. He is already at your door knocking, cf. Rev 3:20.
Bible Readings: Is 41: 1-20; Is 49: 8-18; Rom 8:18-30.
Thought for today: God is always with us.
Let us pray: God may all your children especially those who suffer today see the sign of your presence in their lives and around them – Amen.
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