Palm Sunday (C)
Fr. Tony’s Homily
Fr. Tony’s Homily
Fr. Tony’s Homily
PASSION OF CHRIST (1:19) – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus in Mel Gibson’s Passion of Christ.
“The True Image”
The Church celebrates this sixth Sunday of Lent as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday. This is the time of year we stop to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation. What we commemorate and relive during this week is not just Jesus’ dying and rising, but our own dying and rising in Jesus, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption. Attentive participation in the Holy Week liturgy will deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith, and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. Today’s liturgy combines contrasting moments, one of glory, the other of suffering: the royal welcome of Jesus in Jerusalem, and the drama of the trial, culminating in the crucifixion, death, and burial of the Christ.
Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
in Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, the actress who imitated the actions of St. Veronica had a conversion experience, right there in the midst of filming the scene. Sabrina Impacciatore is an Italian actress and although she had grown up Catholic, she had long ago stopped practicing her Faith. At the time when they began filming, she was at a spiritual low point in her life. She later explained that she really wanted to believe in Jesus, but she just couldn’t do it. Her scene in the movie is quite memorable… Sabrina said it was a very hard scene to film. The churning crowd kept bumping into her and disrupting the moment of intimacy. And so they had to film it over and over again. Twenty times they had to film it before getting it right. And that was providential. Because after twenty times of kneeling before the suffering Christ, looking into his eyes, and calling him Lord, the actress felt something start to melt inside her. She wasn’t seeing the actor pretending to be our Lord; she was seeing our Lord himself. Later, she explained that while she looked into his eyes, she found that she was able to believe. “For a moment,” she said, “I believed!”
The name Veronica comes from the two words vera and icon and these two words mean true image. This true image refers to the image of Jesus’ face that was left on the cloth that was used to wipe his face. This relic is kept at the Vatican and scientists can’t explain it. Vera icon, the true image, eventually became Veronica, the name given to the anonymous woman who loved Jesus. As Christians all of us are supposed to be a Veronica, a true icon, a true image of Jesus. As we enter into Holy Week, like Sabrina that actress, like St. Veronica herself, let us look into the eyes of our Lord, giving ourselves to him in all things, praying for the grace not to be afraid to love … not be afraid to bring Him all of our sins, to bring to him our hurts, our doubts, our troubles, our hardness of hearts, our everything. … trusting Him in everything. In doing this our Lord will transform us, making us into a true image of Himself.
Today’s first reading, the third of Isaiah’s four Servant Songs, like the other three, foreshadows Jesus’ own life and mission.
The Refrain for today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 22),”My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” plunges us into the heart of Christ’s Passion.
The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is an ancient Christian hymn representing a very early Christian understanding of who Jesus is, and of how his mission saves us from sin and death.
The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception Jesus received from his admirers, who paraded with him for a distance of the two miles between the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem.
In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to/participate in a reading of the Passion of Christ according to Luke. We are challenged to examine our own lives in the light of some of the characters in the Passion story – like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience as he condemned Jesus to death on the cross, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus.
Choose as many as time allows
We need to answer 5 questions today
1) Does Jesus weep over my sinful soul as he wept over Jerusalem at the beginning of his Palm Sunday procession?
2) Am I a barren fig tree? God expects me to produce fruits of holiness, purity, justice, humility, obedience, charity, and forgiveness. Do I? Or worse, do I continue to produce bitter fruits of impurity, injustice, pride, hatred, jealousy and selfishness?
3) Will Jesus need to cleanse my heart with his whip? Jesus cannot tolerate the desecration of the temple of the Holy Spirit (which I have become), by my addiction to uncharitable, unjust, impure thoughts, words, and deeds; nor does Jesus praise my business mentality or calculation of loss and gain in my relationship with God, my Heavenly Father.
4) Do I welcome Jesus into my heart? Am I ready to surrender my life to him during this Holy Week and welcome him into all areas of my life as my Lord and Savior? Let us remember that we are all sinners who have crucified Jesus by our sins, but we are still able to turn to Jesus again to ask for pardon and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is through the Passion of Jesus that we receive forgiveness: “with His stripes we are healed.” (Is 53:5).
5) Are we like the humble donkey that carried Jesus, bringing Jesus’ universal love, unconditional forgiveness, and sacrificial service to our families, places of work, and communities by the way we live our lives?
We need to welcome Jesus into our hearts in a special way during the Holy Week
We must be ready to surrender our lives to Jesus during this Holy Week and welcome Him into all areas of our life as our Lord and Savior, singing “Hosanna.” Today, we receive palm branches at the Divine Liturgy. Let us take them to our homes and put them in a place where we can always see them. Let the palms remind us that Christ is the King of our families, that Christ is the King of our hearts, and that Christ is the only true answer to our quest for happiness and meaning in our lives. And if we do proclaim Christ as our King, let us try to make time for Him in our daily life. Let us remember that He is the One with Whom we will be spending eternity. Let us be reminded further that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. Let us prioritize and place Christ the King as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find true peace and happiness in our confused and complex world.
End of homily
Jokes of the Week
At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, or congregations.
1) Little Johnny was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from Church with his mother. His father returned from Church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked, “Why do you have that palm branch, Dad?” His father explained, “You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved palm branches to honor Him; so we got palm branches today.” “Aw, shucks,” grumbled Little Johnny. “The one Sunday I can’t go to Church, and Jesus shows up!”
2) The king on a donkey! Some of you heard my story about the husband and the wife who had quarreled. It had been a pitched battle of wills, each digging heels in to preserve the position each had vehemently taken. Emotions had run high. As they were driving to attend a family wedding in a distant city, both were nursing hurt feelings in defensive silence. The angry tension between them was so thick you could cut it with a knife. But, then the silence was broken. Pointing to a donkey standing in a pasture out beside the road, the husband sarcastically asked, “Relative of yours?” The wife quickly replied, “By marriage!”
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