12 Apr Palm Sunday
Homilies are never the creative act of one person. So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it. ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.
God bless you.
Holy Week has begun. Jesus, triumphant from his many miracles especially his recent raising of Lazarus from the dead, enters Jerusalem as the prophesied Davidic King. And yet that King will soon be crucified. Jesus has already foretold his Suffering and Cross. He knows what lies ahead. And he knows as the prophet Isaiah says in our first reading that the Father is with Him , he knows he will not be disgraced because this is God’s will and therefore He has set his “face like flint” obediently fulfilling the Father’s will for him. The Cross for Jesus is doing the will of the Father.
What we see in the Cross is the GREATEST ACT OF LOVE. The Father, out of love, sent the Son all the way into our human condition in the Incarnation. But then even more he sent him into god forsakenness. Jesus became a friend of sinners…reaches out to the marginalized, to sinners, to the sick and to the hopeless.
He goes even further…He goes all the way into what frightens us the most. He goes into death. In the most dramatic way possible. Saint Paul says he accepted death, was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Which for someone at that time was the most brutal and most disgraceful way you could be executed. The Father sent the Son all the way out, to the furthest limit of god forsakenness. Why? To bring to those places His divine light.
Is death a place that God is not? No! God is present to death because of Jesus.
Is suffering a place that God is not? No! Because the Son entered into suffering. God is present to suffering because of Jesus.
Is sin, sickness, rejection, torture a place where God is not? No! God became sin on the cross says St. Paul.
What is going on here? It is the journey of the divine light into our worst darkness. The point of it now is to divinize us, make us like God, even in those places. If we are willing! If we choose to embrace it.
Very simply…what God wants… is to share his life with us. Sin is the turning away from that. Death is a fearful place…it seems alien to God. God invades all those places, in Christ, and thereby illumines them and offers us the possibility of Divinization…becoming like him! Even though we had wandered as far as we possibly can from God. God goes into even the darkest places.
Jesus did not take away the sin of the world by removing it from our existence, nor by explaining it away, but by accepting it and transforming it by his healing presence. What does this mean?
Jesus became sin for us, he absorbed all our sinfulness. He experienced all the pain of alienation from God. “Eli, Eli, lema sabachtani” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” Jesus accepted all that the world of darkness had to offer him; he took it all into himself, then transformed it in the crucible of his sacred heart into saving grace. Jesus took in all our hatred, indifference, and bitterness and healed them before he gave them back as love, forgiveness and compassion.
We see in Jesus, the Father’s will, the Father’s love for us. We see in Jesus’ suffering and death, His obedience to the Father’s will…His love for the Father. We see in Jesus’ suffering death Jesus’ love for us.
Holy Week, especially Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, is an entering into the Greatest Act of Love…God’s shining the light of His love into the godforsaken parts of our lives… our various daily crosses…and transforming them…We ask this week…Am I worth such Love?…From the throne of the Cross to each one of us our God shouts a resounding “Yes. I love you this much.”