Homily ·Lent
By Archbishop Gomez
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
April 05, 2020

My brothers and sisters in Christ,1

We enter into this Holy Week, in this extraordinary and challenging time.

Jesus enters Jerusalem today as a king, triumphant, surrounded by a large crowd. He dies, crucified, abandoned and alone.  

St. Paul tells us today, “Christ Jesus … emptied himself… coming in human likeness… he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus entered into our human condition. He took on our flesh and blood, he shared our human nature. And in his humanity, he confronted the reality of death.

In this time of the coronavirus, it seems like the shadow of death is everywhere around us. We are talking about it all the time these days — the numbers of people who are infected, the numbers who are dying. Naturally, we are concerned for ourselves and our loved ones.

And we pray for one another, and especially for the ones who have died, their families, and the ones who are sick and also their families, their loved ones.

But death is not what God wants for his children. We know that. This is why he sends his only Son into the world. This is why Jesus is handed over to the authorities, why he is made to suffer and die on the cross.

Because through his death, he destroys the power of death and delivers us the fear of death.2

This is the beautiful hope of Holy Week! On the cross, Jesus dies for us, for you and for me! He dies, my dear brothers and sisters, so we never have to be afraid of death.

As we enter into these most sacred days of the year, we need to ponder this beautiful truth. The Son of God loved me and he gave himself for me. He loves you and he gave himself for you.3

This is the great message of Holy Week! God’s love is stronger than death!4 We will not die, but we will live!

It is the beautiful truth that we have to reflect on these days, during the celebration and commemoration of the passion and death of our Lord this Holy Week.

And as I was reflecting on the Gospel today, it is a long Gospel. But I was thinking about Simon, the Cyrenian man that Jesus meets on the way to Golgotha.

It is interesting. Simon didn’t offer to help Jesus carry the cross. The Gospel says that Simon was “pressed into service to carry his cross.” The cross was forced on him, he was made to carry it.

And as I was reflecting — isn’t that the way we experience the crosses in our own lives? We would rather not suffer. But when suffering does come into our lives, when we face challenges and difficulties, we know what we have to do, we know what Jesus expects of us.

Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow him. And so we do. Just as Simon did. We take up our cross and we walk with Jesus. We carry our cross with him, we offer our sufferings for others, we join our sufferings to his.5

These challenging times that we are living in — this time when so many people are sick and dying, this time when so many people are losing their jobs and we are afraid for the future — this is, my dear brothers and sisters, the cross coming into our lives. God is humbling us through these sufferings. He is testing us, to know what is in our hearts.6

So this Holy Week, let us ask for the grace to take up this cross he is sending us and to carry it with Jesus. Let us ask for the grace to trust in his love for us. Let us offer our sacrifices for our brothers and sisters who are suffering, for all those who are risking their lives to serve others in this terrible pandemic.

Let’s keep in mind that our Lord is never far from us. He is our help and he will never leave us. If we share in his cross, we will share in his resurrection. If we lose our life for his sake, we will find new life in him.7 Then this Holy Week will be very special for all of us.

No doubt it is totally different as we can experience today on

This Holy Week will be different. We are forced to be apart, we are confined to our homes. But it is an extraordinary grace for all of us as we reflect on how we can carry this cross with Jesus.

And then we will celebrate, on Easter Sunday, his glorious Resurrection. We will really see in our lives that this commemoration and celebration is a reflection of what our life is supposed to be.

We are followers of Jesus Christ. We are called to be Christ himself and we trust that with him, we will live forever, we will receive the grace of going to Heaven.

So let’s ask Mary our Blessed Mother for her intercession, ask her to help us live this Holy Week at home with great devotion and love. And may she intercede for us and help us to carry our cross in this time of trial and testing.

1. Readings: ISa. 50:4-7; Ps. 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Phil. 2:6-11; Matt. 26:14-27:66.

2. Heb. 2:14–15.

3. Gal. 2:20.

4. Heb. 5:7; John 10:17; 1 Cor. 15:57; Song 8:6.

5. Matt. 16:24–26; Mark 8:34–37; Luke 9:23–25.

6. Deut. 8:2.

7. Mark 8:35.

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