‘Walk with the Lord …’

Bishop celebrates Palm Sunday

On April 2, Bishop Raica celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul, marking Palm Sunday. The complete text of his homily follows herein.

My sisters and brothers, on this Palm – Passion – Sunday we pivot to the drama of the Passion of our Lord. For us, there can be no other reason than to take what we have been preparing for during these past few weeks of Lent and see the highpoint of these events on Calvary with the crucifixion of our Savior, anticipating His resurrection.

It wasn’t long ago, that we gathered here on Christmas to welcome the birth of Christ – our Emmanuel, our “God-with-us.” He became, and was, one of us! 

His public ministry was marked by intensity. He called people to Himself and invited them: “Follow Me!” And many did! We hear about the wonders He worked. He satisfied the thirst of the Samaritan woman at the well and promised that He would give her living water! We, too, have thirsts that need to be slaked! He healed the blind man. Through Him we recognize our own blindness and now are able to see more clearly. He also raised His dear friend Lazarus to life. In the end, many were telling Jesus: “Everyone is looking for You.” “No one has ever spoken like this man,” related the law enforcement officer to his boss, explaining why he didn’t take him into custody. Over and over again, the amazement spread right up to hailing Him as the King with their Hosannas.

Maybe that’s why some became afraid. Judas betrayed Him; Peter denied Him. Many who hailed Him as Messiah, now got swept up in the crowd with their shouts of “crucify Him.”

We also know that He remained faithful to the will of His Father in Heaven. The Father and I are One. If you see Me, you see the Father.

At the very heart of it all was a rejection of relationship – a repudiation of a chance to see something great in life. It was that the crowd was more comfortable with the status quo than the possibility of becoming what they were truly created for. Yet, He used those circumstances to create for us yet another opportunity to see how much we are loved! We are loved because there is Someone Who is so concerned about our ultimate destiny that He seeks us out and says, “I am the way! Follow Me!”

We live in the shadow of that affirmation. Unlike those in the Gospel passage who didn’t quite know the end of the story, we do. In fact, one of their number saw Him alive – as we will affirm on Easter. Yes! His death was not an end, but a transition to what is in store for those who believe. Today, through the faithfulness of Christians, because of the suffering of Christ, we can find meaning in our own suffering and weaknesses. We go the extra mile for those whose hearts are breaking because of the loss of a loved one. He invites us to be more and love each other with the depths of our hearts.

Though the crowd condemned Jesus, He did not condemn us. The Anointed One came to redeem us. That is our hope as well because He is present in all believers who have “put on Christ” in baptism. Through our efforts at the Eucharistic Revival now underway, we can experience the face of Jesus Christ today. Jesus is not just some kind of a nice thought or the odor of some kind of cologne or spray. We can see His face if we really want to.

Holy Week is a sort of retreat for us Christians – beginning today. It is solemn in its own nature with some rather beautiful and evocative ceremonies that bring us in contact with the Mystery that shapes us as a people linked together in Christ. There are the events of the Chrism Mass this Tuesday; the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with washing of feet on Holy Thursday; the reading of the Passion of our Lord and the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday; the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at the Solemn Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday’s glorious celebrations. We will walk with the Lord and follow Him each step of the way. As a family of faith, can we not do it together?