My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
What we have just heard in today’s Gospel, is the story of our salvation. The salvation of the human race. But also the personal story of your salvation and my salvation.
Jesus Christ died — so that we can live. This is a historical fact. But it is more than that. Jesus Christ died for you and for me. And that is real. That is really personal.
On this Palm Sunday, I think we really need to ponder this beautiful truth in our hearts. It is amazing. The Son of God — he loved me and he gave himself for me. He loves you and he gave himself for you.2
So today — in the sufferings of Jesus — God is speaking to us. The events we re-live in our Gospel today — these events tell us and they show us — how much God loves us. Each one of us.
And this is the whole meaning of our Lenten journey. We make the journey every year, so we never forget — so we remember just how precious we are to God.
St. Paul tells us today in our second reading: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
This was God’s will. And Jesus came to do the will of God. And he did God’s will out of love — not out of fear. Not because he could not escape. Jesus could have summoned twelve legions of angels to rescue him, as we heard in the reading of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But he did not.3
This is the whole point of his life. Jesus gave his life to save others. He did not save himself for only one reason — so that we could be saved.
Because Jesus Christ did not save himself, we are no longer prisoners of our past. We can be forgiven of our sins! We are free to know God’s love and free to become the people he created us to be.
And of course we know — that the story does not end here, at the foot of the Cross. We know that in the shadow of the Cross, we find the light of the Resurrection.
So we know that Jesus lives! That he’s walking with us.
We remember these events today so that once again we can come to a new awareness of his presence among us.
Jesus goes with us now. He walks with us on our journey. In all our joys, in all our struggles. He’s there. He’s with us. Jesus is always with you, he is always with me. To show us the way to go, to strengthen us when we are weak.
It’s true. He died for us, he’s risen, and he’s with us every single minute of our lives.
So my dear brothers and sisters, as today we begin the holiest week of our Christian year, the week of our salvation, let us carry the events of today’s Gospel in our hearts this week.
Let us make this week a time for quiet reflection on what Our Lord suffered for us. For you and for me. How much he loves us, each one of us.
And this week, we can also think about our own lives, our own commitments. About how real it is — our dedication to God and to others.
Jesus died for us — are we living for him? Are we living with hope and joy and showing mercy and compassion to others? Are we working to make peace and promote justice in our world? Are we looking for new ways to grow in our love for God and for others.
And there is one practical thing that I like to do, and that’s the palms and I think it is a long tradition in the life of the Church. The palms that we get today — that were blessed today — just to keep them in our houses wherever we have a crucifix, we can put it there somehow. Just to remind us that Jesus died for me.
In the different crucifixes that I have in the Cathedral, I always try to put a little piece of the palms that were blessed because it is a beautiful reminder — and also reminds me, and I should remind all of us — that Jesus is always present in our lives.
So let us keep praying for each other this week. And may our Blessed Mother Mary walk with us as we follow the way of her Son — the Way of the Cross that leads to the Resurrection.
1. Readings (Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion, Year A): Isa. 50:4-7; Ps. 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Phil. 2:6-11; Matt. 26:14-27:66.
2. Gal. 2:20.
3. Matt. 26:53.