Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fr. Matthias Neuman's Homily for Palm Sunday

Readings: Is 50:4-7; Phil 6:2-11; Luke 22:14-23:56

In the almost ten years that I have been chaplain here at Our Lady of Grace, one of the regular parts of my mornings has been watching the morning TV news while getting breakfast. How often it happens that the news commentator describes some serious traffic accidents that have occurred during the morning rush hour or in the late night of the evening before. There are pictures of mangled cars and reports that fatalities were involved or that several people were flown by Lifeline to area hospitals. As I watch, I begin to muse that in the blink of an eye some lives have been changed forever or even ended. One moment those people were speeding along, thinking about another day at work, or some family problems, or the upcoming weekend—and then (!) in just a moment everything changes. Or in the late night people are going home from a great party. They are still talking in the car, remembering the fun, the camaraderie, and the car drifts over the center line. And in an instant everything changes. Later they might desire with all their strength to have that one moment back again, to have things the way they were before, but they can never put it all back together again.

This feast of Palm Sunday and the reading of the Passion account remembers and anticipates a similar sudden change in the lives of Jesus and his disciples. How thrilling and joyous was that triumphal entry into Jerusalem! How deeply moving was that supper that Jesus celebrated with his closest followers! After the meal they went out into the night singing, as was Jewish custom, the Hallel Psalms (##115-118) and the Great Hallel (#136): "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love is eternal. Give thanks to the God of Gods; His love is eternal." Joyous with the meal, the celebration and the wine they nodded off in the garden while Jesus prayed. Then in a flash the soldiers arrived, Jesus is arrested, and they run away in fear. The unthinkable had happened. Everything changed in that moment. Palm Sunday reminds us of that change as we read the Passion account.

This Palm Sunday let’s take a few moments to remember all those people whose lives are changed in an instant, whose worlds are suddenly shattered. Things will never be the same for them—never again. They know the same kind of distress and utter confusion as the disciples of Jesus when they fled the capture of Jesus. Let’s pray that they have courage in their hearts to face what has happened and the ordeal ahead. And if we ourselves should ever come to know a similar Passion-moment of sudden transition, let’s pray now for courage in our hearts.

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