Monday, 21 March 2016

PALM SUNDAY HOMILY - STM TORONTO

The Heart of God's Word: "What is written about Me is coming to fulfillment," (Luke 22:37).

If we consider the New Testament account of the life of Jesus, as an ascent, a going up to Jerusalem then through Lent and Holy Week we are climbing liturgically i.e. enacting in worship the saving events of our faith. Now we have reached the climax of the year, the highest peak of salvation history.  All that has been anticipated and promised is to be fulfilled.

This path of the ascent of Jesus is, as Pope Benedict put it in the second volume of his work Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week, Jesus’ “path into “the Heart of God’s Word.”  The obedient suffering servant gives himself for others.

By the close of today's long Gospel of the Passion and again on Good Friday, we see that Jesus’ work of our redemption is accomplished, the new covenant is written in the blood of Christ’s broken body hanging on the cross at the place called the Skull. The heart of the Logos, God’s communication of Love, God’s word to us is fully communicated and our response is called for.

In His Passion, Jesus is "counted among the wicked," as Isaiah had foretold ( Isaiah 53:12). Jesus is revealed definitively as the Suffering Servant whom the prophet announced; Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah whose words of obedience and faith ring out in today's First Reading.

The taunts and torments we hear in these two readings punctuate the Gospel as Jesus is beaten and mocked (Luke 22:63-65; 23:10-11,16). His hands and feet are pierced (see Luke 23:33), as enemies gamble for His clothes ( see Luke 23:34), and three times they dare Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself from suffering. (Luke 23:35,37,39) 

As God, the Son, Jesus remains faithful to the will of the Father to the end – the heart of faithfulness. He does not turn back through his actual passion and death. Jesus gives Himself freely to His torturers, confident that, in the words of Isaiah: "The Lord God is My help . . .  I shall not be put to shame."

Destined to sin and death as children of fallen humanity, we have been set free for sanctification and the fulness of life by the perfect obedience of Jesus, the Messiah, to the Father's will.  (Romans 5:12-14,17-19; Ephesians 2:2; 5:6).

This is why God greatly exalted Him. This is why we have salvation in the Holy Name of Jesus. Following His example of humble obedience in the trials and crosses of our own lives, we learn that we will never be forsaken.  We have confidence through faith that one day we too will be with the Lord in Paradise (Luke 23:42).



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