Homily for Palm Sunday Year B. 28-03-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
Gospel at procession: Mark 11:1-10
First Readings: Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm: Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Mark 14:1-15:47
Today’s liturgy ushers us into the Holy Week, the most solemn and central of all celebrations in Christendom, and we see Jesus willingly and freely make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem to prepare for His paschal mystery in order to win for us salvation. There is so much joy and merriment all around Him as the people hail Him and welcome Him as a Messiah and King of peace. They acknowledge His Divinity, His humanity and His Kingship as they chant Hosanna in the highest to Him as the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the Son of David. Many spread their garments for Him to ride on. It is such a joyous occasion but it also leads to a twist that reveals to us how much often we live and experience contrasts in our lives as humans. We can never be adequately prepared to face the unforeseen twists, but being aware of them can save us from being swept away. When we are hailed and cheered by people, what do we do? Are we carried away or do we react like Jesus?
In all of the lavish and boisterous accolades ensuing from the people, Christ remained calm and unassuming. Surely, He knows that He is a sign of contradiction that would shock the crowds and their expectations. And of course, He knew that the outcome of this would be a radical change in the manner that most of the people perceived Him. They were in anticipation of a political Messiah that would rule them by setting them free from the Roman control. They were not ready for a Messiah that would suffer for them. But instead, Christ was concerned with liberating them not just from temporal domination but from the spiritual dominion of sin and evil. So, His reception too is going to move from the loud joyful acclamation, to scorn, disdain and passion, as soon as they realise He is anything but what they expect.
Often times events in our lives unfold just like we see in the life of Christ in the events of this Holy Week. As it is often said, it holds true that success has a lot of friends. When we succeed, in a minute we are acclaimed, feted, made to feel altogether good about ourselves. We have so many friends and an endless list of relations and acquaintances that gather around us to identify with us, shake our hand, celebrate and congratulate us. Everyone must know that these people have a link with us. When we excel in our places of work and get awards, or when we come out with good grades in school, or win a trophy in sports or some other competition, or when we are professed or ordained, or are elected into positions of leadership, or get inducted into our civil professions. However, sooner than later, everything changes. We are no longer that genius, that brilliant student, that protégé on the stage, that wonder in the field of sports, that shining star, that celebrity, that successful man or woman with many associates. Such is the world and such is life. We find ourselves feted one moment and forgotten the next. People are no longer following us. Things have gone wrong…where did the crowd go? And we feel very much alone, as Jesus felt at His trial when all abandoned Him including His inner circle of the twelve apostles. Only a handful remained with Him to support Him all the way to the hill of Calvary. Sometimes, even family members abandon us in such moments of apparent defeat and loss, but Christ still had His mother with Him suffering with Him all the way to His death. Oh! What love of a mother, only surpassed by the love of God.
Calvary wasn’t an unforeseen end to Jesus. He saw and knew it was coming, but willingly chose to go up this hill for our sake because He was being true to Himself. This is what the existentialists call authentic living. For one of them, John Paul Sartre, authentic living requires us to embrace the reality of our freedom and be responsible for how we choose to live.
Christ chose this path and was responsible for it, to live and die for the kingdom of God. He chose it because His desire is to lead us to the Kingdom of God. Not everyone loved the fact that He chose this path, so He was hailed and cheered but sooner than later mocked, derided, scourged and nailed to die on the cross. But His story did not end in death, He rose from the dead because He was true to Himself and His mission. Are you living an authentic life? With the manner you are living, can you call yourself a responsible child of God?
Like the Lord, we can and must be true to ourselves. We have to realise that it is not the opinion of the masses that matter. What matters is that we are true to ourselves in conformity to God’s will. Often as it is always the case, that will bring us to our own cross and our crowd of supporters will be drastically reduced to just a handful or none…well, so be it. It was same for Jesus and it cannot be different for us as long as we follow Him in truth. As long as we are being true to ourselves before God, it doesn’t matter what others say. Sometimes we hear, are you the only Christian to occupy that office that you can’t help yourself? I love you and would want to marry you but I have to sleep with you first, or I will find someone who will. Look, everybody is doing this or doing that, so it’s normal. And when we take the side of truth conforming to God in opposition to such pressures, we lose friends and we are left alone. Well, welcome to the Cross. Standing up for what is right and true, moral and just is never going to be easy and popular especially in our world today. What matters is that we are who we were created to be, reflections of God’s love on earth. This is authentic living for a Christian. Ask yourself today, are you living an authentic life or a lie? Are you being true to yourself as that person God created you to be? It is only when we are true to ourselves that we can reveal to the world that true image of God that we were created to bear. We will be abandoned by friends and sometimes even by family members, but let us remember that even if all forget us, as long as we are holding unto the Cross, we are savouring the Lord’s loving embrace, and this is enough because one with God is majority. As we journey with the Lord to begin His passion today, let us pray uniting our sufferings and struggles to His in faith so that He will guide us through our crosses to the joyful life of Easter. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.