24 March 2018

Homily - Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion, At the Mass - 24 March 2018

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
At the Mass

MS M.44 fol. 6r
Dear brothers and sisters,

The character of the Apostle Saint Peter is an intriguing one. He is a man who both loves Jesus deeply and one who repeatedly resists his will. We see this today as we reflect on the Passion of the Lord. It is Saint Peter’s loving devotion to Jesus that draws him to that fire in the courtyard of the high priest, while the others, except for John, had fled. And it is his repeated resistance to the will of the Lord that keeps him at the fire. Is our love for Jesus strong enough to bring us to the fire? Is our resistance to his will stubborn enough to keep as at the fire?

We also find something curious in the dialogue with those bystanders at the fire. As he answers their questions,

Peter cannot bring himself even to mention the name of Jesus: ‘I do not know this man about whom you are talking.’ His denial has progressed from evasion (cf. Mark 14:68) to outright repudiation (cf. Mark 14:70) to perjury (cf. Mark 14:71). But there is an ironic truth in his denial: he does not yet truly know Jesus.[1]

In this, Saint Peter is a man very much like many of us. As we enter this most holy of weeks, do we truly know Jesus? How often do we evade answering questions or about speaking about Jesus?

During this week in which we reflect upon the most important events ever to have happened in the universe, we can draw near to Saint Peter at the fire. It is at that fire that we can each begin

to meditate on [Jesus’] passion [and] begin to be illumined by the fire of divine love that radiates from the heart of Jesus through every moment of his sufferings, to begin to experience that in his passion he loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).[2]

The closer we draw near to this fire of divine love, the more we can understand and experience the mercy of Christ. The more we allow his heart to warm our own, the more we will desire to become like him and warm the colder areas of our own lives.

We find another curious aspect in that alabaster jar from which the woman anointed the feet of Jesus. The Greek word that our translation gives as “broke” literally means “shattered;” “the woman gives up any possibility of reusing the flask or saving some of its contents” (Mark 14:3).[3] Her action was more than a physical one; it carried a deeper meaning with it. She withheld nothing from the Lord Jesus and placed her very being at his service; may we, too, not be afraid of being known by Jesus and shatter the jars of our stubbornness, pride, and self-absorption at his feet. Let us place ourselves fully in his service and so be transformed and renewed by the power of his love. Amen.

[1] Mary Healy, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scriptures: The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008), 303.
[2] Ibid., 302
[3] Ibid., 277

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