09 April 2017

Homily - 9 April 2017 - At the Blessing of Palms - Let our minds conform to what our bodies do

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
At the Blessing of Palms

Dear brothers and sisters,

Saint Thomas More once expressed his hope and desire “that whatever our bodies may be doing, we would at the same time constantly lift up our minds to God (which is the most acceptable form of prayer).”[1] These words are a good reminder to us who, as we enter into this Holy Week, will soon join in a joyful procession into the church. As our minds may be distracted by the assembly not all singing at the same time or by fears that we might be poked in the eye by another person’s palm, it is good for us to reminder why we do today what we do.

We have gathered today to commemorate the triumphant entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem and to shout with those who welcomed him into the holy city, “Hosanna to the son of David” (Matthew 21:9)! This ancient word that we use at every celebration of the Holy Mass originated as “a word of urgent supplication, meaning like: Come to our aid! The priests would repeat it in a monotone on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while processing seven times around the altar of sacrifice, as an urgent prayer for rain. But as the Feast of Tabernacles gradually changed from a feast of petition into one of praise, so too the cry for help turned more and more into a shout of jubilation.”[2]

As we process with these blessed palms, with these symbols of victory, let us conform our minds to what our bodies do. Let us go forth to meet Christ our King with glad shouts of praise confident in the power of his love.

[1] Saint Thomas More, The Sadness of Christ and Final Prayers and Benedictions, trans. Clarence Miller (New York: Scepter Publishers, 1993), 21.
[2] Joseph Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011), 6-7.

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