Sunday, April 01, 2007

Palm Sunday

This homily is based on the First Gospel, said at the beginning of Mass on Palm Sunday.

Lk 19: 28-40

Palm Sunday. Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly. Crowds of people greet him shouting “Hosanna,” proclaiming him the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Jesus is on top of the world. Yet in a few short days, instead of being on top of the world, he will be on top of a hill, hanging on a cross. Some of the very people shouting Hosanna will soon be shouting “Crucify Him.” How did things go so wrong so quickly? Why even go to Jerusalem? He was entering the unknown, a place of danger. Jesus had to know what risk he was taking by going there. He was in essence entering the lion’s den, challenging the religious leaders on their territory. Even on a purely human level Jesus had to know how risky going to Jerusalem would be, particularly when the people hail you as their king. He had to know, but he went anyway. He went into the dangerous unknown.
Jesus sent some of his disciples to carry out a mission, bring back a colt tied near the entrance to a village. Should anyone ask “why are you taking this colt?” they were to simply reply that the master has need of it. They could not know what the reaction of those villagers might be. Would they simply let them take it? Would they put up a fight? They were entering the unknown, a potentially dangerous unknown, but they went anyway.
These disciples went to take that colt out of love, love for Jesus, and out of trust. They trusted him. They believed that if he sent them somewhere, if he asked them to do something, it was for a good cause. They believed that whatever happened to them, they would be alright, because they were doing what Jesus had called them to do.
Jesus went to Jerusalem despite the risk, despite the danger, out of love. He went for love of God and out of his love for us. He knew the danger, perhaps he even knew precisely what would happen. He knew the possibility of the pain and suffering ahead of him and he went anyway. He went because of his love for us. He went to do what he knew he had to do, for us, so that we might be able to see God.
Jesus calls each of us to take a risk, to step into the unknown. He asks us to believe, and to trust. It’s not easy, this step into the unknown. How will the people around us react when we express our belief in God? How will they look at us when we express our faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the savior of the world? They may laugh at us, or ignores us, or reject us, or they may believe as well. Either way, we can’t know. We step into the unknown and we are afraid. There is nothing wrong with being afraid, it’s quite normal. Jesus was afraid, yet out of love he stepped in to the dangerous unknown anyway. The disciples of Jesus were afraid, yet out of trust they stepped into the unknown anyway. We have faith, a faith that calls us to love, and calls us to trust in the one sending us. With faith, and love and trust, let us step into the unknown.
Deacon John
Palm Sunday
April 1, 2007