My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We have reached the last part of our Lenten journey.
This has been a special journey this Lent for all of us in the universal Church. This is a Lent we will never forget. Because as we have been praying, and fasting and offering our sacrifices of love, we have also been waiting for God to give us a new Pope.
And in his love, God has answered our prayers in a beautiful way! The College of Cardinals elected Pope Francis! So we have new Pope and we are preparing this week to celebrate our first Easter with our new Pope Francis! Let’s especially keep this in mind this week as we accompany Jesus during these days of Holy Week. Let’s remember that we are also accompanying Pope Francis as he begins his ministry as the Vicar of Christ on earth.
Today, as we start Holy Week, we are asked to reflect on the joy of Palm Sunday and the sadness of the Passion of Christ. The contrast between “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” and a few days later “Crucify him!, Crucify him!”
All the readings that we heard today point us to the Cross of Jesus Christ.
The Suffering Servant who speaks in today’s first reading is pointing us to Jesus. Jesus is the One who gives his body to be beaten and his face to be struck. Jesus is also the One who is speaking in the Psalm that we sung today.
But we need to remember, my brothers and sisters. Jesus is not a passive “victim.” Nobody takes his life from him. Jesus lays his life down because he wants to.2 He offers his life up as a sacrifice to God — for your sake and for mine.
Jesus freely chooses to make his life into a prayer, a sacrifice out of love. That’s what St. Paul is talking about in the second reading that we have heard today. Jesus humbled himself, becoming obedient ... even to death on a cross.
There is no greater love, my dear brothers and sisters! And that’s the meaning of this beautiful Sunday of our Lord’s Passion, Palm Sunday.
We can see Jesus’ love for us — to the point of giving his life for each one of us. But his love comes to each one of us as a personal challenge.
We know in our minds that Jesus is hanging on this Cross for us. We know that he has laid down his life for each one of us. That’s what we believe. For you and for me.
So the question for us, the question we have to ask ourselves on this Palm Sunday is: what are we doing for him?
What part of his cross are we carrying for him. Jesus has shown us the mercy of God, his love for each one of us. So, it will make sense, that we discover in our lives the need to show mercy to others, to love others. Who do we need to forgive? Who has trespassed against us and we have not forgiven them?
It is indeed a personal challenge. But let’s ask for the grace to respond generously discovering what things we can do in order to love God more and to show that in loving our brothers and sisters in our daily life.
So in this Holy Week, and in every day of our lives, let us accompany Jesus. Let us try to live close to him. Especially this week — as he goes up to Jerusalem to celebrate his last Passover.
Let’s try to stay close as he offers his Body and Blood in the bread and wine on Holy Thursday at his Last Supper.
Let us try to stay near to him in his agony in the garden and through his trial on Good Friday. Let us help him carry his cross through the sad streets of Jerusalem on his way to Calvary.
And my brothers and sisters, as we accompany Jesus on his journey this week, let us never forget that this story does not end at the Cross. We are on our way to the empty tomb of Easter morning! This story ends with the celebration of his Resurrection on Easter morning.
So let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary — who walked with her Son every step of the way, who kept vigil at the foot of his cross. And let’s ask her, Our Lady of the Angels, to teach us courage, so that we can follow him through our whole lives, along this way that leads to the Resurrection.
1. Readings (Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion, Year C): Isa. 50:4-7; Ps. 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24; Phil. 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47.
2. John 10:17-18.