Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for Palm Sunday

We have begun Holy Week, the high point of the whole Christian liturgical year. It is a week of high liturgical drama. We are drawn into the dynamics of the last week of the life of Jesus with all of its high points and low points. Today, Palm Sunday, recalls the joyous entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. His ministry of proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God is reaching its climax. He has come to the center of Jewish faith, the city of Jerusalem. The crowds that attend his entry are filled with hope and expectation.

Here we should pause to remember that Holy Week works on two levels of perception. The first, and most obvious one, is remembering the real events of Jesus’ last week. The second level, which we have to reflect to, concerns the corresponding events in our own lives. In other words, Jesus’ life gives us pause to think about aspects of our own lives. For example, today the joyous entry of Jesus into Jerusalem should spur us to call to mind the many hopes and dreams of my life. Palm Sunday is all about hopes and dreams. "Might he be the Christ, the one who is to restore Israel?" These thoughts of high expectation were in the minds of many, even among Jesus’ closest disciples.

Today gives us an occasion to think about our own dreams and hopes. When we were young, what did we really hope for? A great career? Fame and celebrity? To be a saint? To have a loving mate and a family? To see the world? What were our dreams and how did they turn out? Have we reconciled ourselves to the fact that dreams don’t always work out? They certainly didn’t for the followers of Jesus.

However, for the disciples of Jesus something unexpected and far better occurred. We need to be open to that in our lives as well. The country-western singer, Garth Brooks, said it well in a line from one of his songs: "Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." How true that is!

But now, well on in our lives as many of us are, what are our hopes and dreams still? Palm Sunday is a day to consider them directly.

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