Homily for Palm/Passion Sunday, Year B

We Honor Christ, the Servant and King

Readings: 1stIs 50, 4-7; Ps 21, 8-9, 19-20; 2ndPhil 2, 6-11: Gos: Mk 14, 1-15-47

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

(https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8452-8392)

Today is Palm Sunday. It is a unique Sunday in Lent that marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday celebrates the triumphant entry of Christ into the royal city of Jerusalem. This entry is highly symbolic. It demonstrates that Christ is the Davidic king that fulfilled this ancient prophecy: “He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness.” (Isaiah 9:7).

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The first and second readings of this Sunday are on the suffering and humility of Christ, the son of God. The first reading is from the book of Isaiah. It is the song of the suffering servant of God. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul also reminds of the humility and obedience of Christ, the servant of God: “…He emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are, he was humble even to accepting death on a cross.”

Humbly, the servant of God accepted all his sufferings to save us. He offered and lost his life to secure victory for us. The most important lesson from all this is that the virtues of patience, humility, and obedience are fundamental in life. Also, the readings teach us that suffering is inevitable in life. Therefore, only those who are ready to persist and endure to the end will triumph. Also, they teach us that, if we persist in our faith, we shall emerge victorious over suffering.

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Today’s celebration anchored on Mark’s gospel is full of significant symbols. These include the palms representing Christ’s royalty and peaceful reign, “He shall be the prince, and the king of peace” (Is 11: 1-9; 9:6). The donkey is symbolic of Christ’s humility, “He is humble! He rides on a donkey, the foal of a beast of burden” (Zac 9: 9). Finally, the crowd symbolizes both praise and rejection. This is because the same crowd singing “Hosanna, Hosanna” today soon will demand Christ’s crucifixion

Our procession today was for two reasons. First, to honor Christ as he enters the royal city. Hence, we sang: “Hosanna to the son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Second, to express our solidarity with Christ as he begins the journey, ultimately leading to our salvation. So, as we sing hosanna today, we must ask God for the Grace to remain faithful to the end.

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Unfortunately, the sad news is that some of those (the crowd), who hailed Christ with the shout of hosanna, were the same people to latter demanded: “crucify him” on Good Friday. These episodes simply reflect the reality of life. They also reflect how unfaithful and unpredictable we can be at times in our relationships with God and others. Today, we are for Christ; tomorrow, we are against him. Christ is our friend when we are in difficulty, but our enemy when we are comfortable. It also shows how we relate to one another. Today we are friends, and tomorrow we are arch-enemies.

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As we show solidarity to Christ today, we must ask God for the Grace to remain steadfast to him at all moments of our lives. We must also extend this solidarity to others. This is because, in others, we encounter both Christ the suffering servant of God, and Christ, the king of the world.

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!

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