Homily for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord in Year A 2017 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta, 9 April 2017
We have just listened to a very somber account of our Lord’s Passion. It speaks of the worst of human natures, manifested not only by the enemies of Jesus but also by his own disciples. We can identify our own part in the drama of his betrayal, passion and death. We can recognise in ourselves the worst of our human natures that contribute to the sufferings of Christ today, especially in the least of his brothers and sisters.
Palm Sunday is also about the best of human natures and the revelation of God’s greatest love in Jesus. He is the Suffering Servant in Isaiah – one who resisted all forms of evil and totally faithful to God’s purpose for him. He is the one who humbled himself to the point of accepting death on the cross, thus being the expression of the self-emptying God who gave himself entirely to humanity.
Even though the passion story ends with tragedy, Jesus shows us that suffering and death born for the sake of others have transformative power. Indeed they lead to new levels of being, living and relating. They enable us to enter into communion with the God of love, to expand the boundaries of life even in the here and now. This is the great paradox that Jesus taught and lived: life is lived fully not by surrendering it to self-survival instincts or the dominating power but by self-giving love.
Our entrance into Holy Week calls us to renew our commitment to be involved in the challenges and struggles of our world. God is involved with the pain and suffering of our world. God is involved in our quest for justice and peace. God calls us to a new vision of life, mercy, and redemption. Christ crucified and risen, the Wisdom of God, manifests the truth that divine justice and renewing power transforms the world. The victory of shalom is won by the awesome power of compassionate love, in and through solidarity with those who suffer.
Palm Sunday gives us a glimpse of the victory of love over hatred and life over death. It was God’s unflinching fidelity, his unconditional love in Jesus that brought about the victory of shalom. We are therefore encouraged to work and turn the tide in favour of the least of our brothers and sisters, confident that the Kingdom of God will prevail.
The Suffering Servant shows us the way of disarming hatred with love, evil with goodness, violence with benevolence, indifference with compassion. May we, the followers of the way faithfully and courageously walk with Christ and bring his kingdom to life in our world.
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