March 25, 2018 Palm Sunday Deacon Steve Whiteman

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion

At The Procession With Palms – Gospel MK 11:1-10

Or JN 12:12-16

At The Mass – Reading 1 IS 50:4-7

Responsorial Psalm PS 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24.

  1. (2a) My God, my God, why have you abandoned me??

Reading 2 PHIL 2:6-11

Verse Before The Gospel PHIL 2:8-9

Or MK 15:1-39

Homily at the start of the Procession

24/25 March 2018                                           emptying ourselves

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Our 2nd reading today is from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The 6 verses from this reading are incredibly powerful and are sometimes referred to as the “Hymn of Christ”. The Gospel account of the crucifixion provides us the foundation for Holy Week but this passage has some important highlights we can reflect on today.

In the 2nd reading, St. Paul tells us that Jesus set aside His heavenly glory and with great love and humility became human and “emptied himself” for us.

This act of emptying or pouring yourself out for the love of others can have many meanings. On Good Friday we will hear the Passion from the Gospel of John. In that account we are told a “soldier thrust his lance into (Jesus), and immediately blood and water flowed out.” Through the pain and suffering of the cross, Jesus literally allowed His blood to be poured out of His body.

On Thursday night we will reenact the washing of feet that Jesus did before the last supper. Again, Jesus empties Himself into this humble act of love and service for His disciples. It had significant meaning in their culture and continues to capture our hearts today. After washing their feet Jesus tells His disciples: “you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

As we prepare for Holy Week and Easter we need to ask ourselves how we are being called to empty ourselves in this life for others. I’m sure there are many acts of service we pour ourselves into already. We can take comfort in the fact that God sees every act of self-sacrifice and every decision to put someone else’s needs ahead of our own.

One challenge we may have in imitating the example of Jesus is to avoid becoming complacent and doing these acts of service on automatic pilot. It’s easy to get in the habit of mindlessly doing an act of service and not taking the time for being a true Christian friend.

A friend of mine told me a story about a homeless man he met. He wanted to help this person and started making small talk every day in an effort to get to know him. Without being asked, my friend started leaving the man a bag of fruit every day in case he got hungry. After several weeks my friend noticed one day the bag of fruit from the previous day was left overnight. When he asked the man about the rotting fruit, he told my friend: “I don’t like fruit. I try to give it away each day, but yesterday I forgot.”

My friend realized he was bringing the bag of fruit to make himself feel better and didn’t take the time to find out what the homeless man really needed.

As we reflect on the ways that Christ has emptied Himself for us, may we take the time to find the right way to live that example in our own lives.