Palm Sunday

 Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga’s Homily

Word of welcome

What are celebrating today?

The Church celebrates today as both Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday Today’s liturgy combines contrasting moments of glory (“Hosanna”) and suffering (“Crucify him”) – the royal welcome given to Jesus by his followers and the drama of his unjust trial culminating in his crucifixion.

Holy Week challenges us to remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation, to appreciate gratefully the price Jesus paid for our salvation, and to return God’s love for us (expressed through the suffering and death of Jesus), by loving others.

The meditation on these Paschal mysteries should enable us to do our own dying to sin and rising with Jesus, which will result in our healing, reconciliation, and redemption.  Proper participation in the Holy Week liturgy will also deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith, and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus.

The significance of Palm Sunday

Today we join the Palm Sunday crowd in spirit to declare our loyalty to Christ and fidelity to his teachings by actively participating in the Palm Sunday liturgy. As we carry the palm leaves to our homes, we are declaring our choice to accept Jesus as the King and ruler of our lives and our families.

Let us express our gratitude to Jesus for redeeming us by his suffering and death, through our reconciliation with God and His Church, repenting of our sins and receiving God's pardon and forgiveness from Jesus through His Church. 

It is on Palm Sunday that we welcome Jesus into our lives, asking him to allow us a share in his suffering, death and Resurrection. This is also the time we remember and relive the events which brought about our redemption and salvation.  That is why the Holy Week liturgy presents us with the actual events of the dying and rising of Jesus.

Celebrating the Holy Week

The Greek word “hosiana” originally meant "save us now" (II Samuel 14:4). Nearly 25,000 lambs were sacrificed during the feast of the "Pass Over," but the lamb which was sacrificed by the High Priest was taken to the Temple in a procession four days before the main feast day.  On Palm Sunday, Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, was also taken to the Temple in a large procession. On Palm Sunday we receive Jesus into our lives as our Lord and Savior and we mourn as his death confronts us with our sin.

Holy Thursday liturgy commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ. He instituted the sacraments of Holy Communion and Ordination. We resolve to attend Mass as often as possible.

The liturgy of Good Friday enables us to anticipate the Resurrection (John 12:32). “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." Jesus will lift us up by allowing Him to forgive us our sins, to heal the wounds in us caused by our sins and the sins of others and to transform us more completely into the image and likeness of God.

 

Holy Saturday is the day when Jesus lay in the tomb. It enables us meditate on his passion and death, and on his descent into hell, and awaiting his resurrection with prayer and fasting. Many churches hold an Easter vigil (watch) service and baptism of adults. We shall be called upon to renew our baptism promises in order to live more fully the Divine life. 

Proper participation in the Holy Week liturgy will also deepen our relationship with God, increase our Faith and strengthen our lives as disciples of Jesus. This is also the week when we should lighten the burden of Christ’s passion as daily experienced by the hungry, the poor, the sick, the homeless, the lonely and the outcast through our corporal and spiritual works of mercy. 

Reflection on today’s Gospel Reading

The first part of today’s Gospel describes the royal reception which Jesus received from his admirers. They paraded with him for a distance of two miles:  from the Mount of Olives to the city of Jerusalem.  Two-and-a-half million people were normally present to celebrate the Jewish feast of the Passover. 

Jesus permitted such a royal procession for two reasons:

1) to reveal to the general public that he was the promised Messiah,

2) to fulfill the prophecies of Zechariah (9:9): “Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion…. see now your King comes to you; he is victorious, triumphant, humble and riding on a donkey…”), and Zephaniah (3:16-19): “Fear nor, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty Savior … He will … renew you in His love  …  I will save the lame, and assemble the outcasts … I will bring about their restoration.”

In the second part of today’s Gospel, we listen to 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 story like Peter who denied Jesus, Judas who betrayed Jesus, Pilate who acted against his conscience and condemned Jesus, Herod who ridiculed Jesus, and the leaders of the people who preserved their position by getting rid of Jesus. 

Conclusion

Let us express our gratitude to Jesus for redeeming us by his suffering and death, through our reconciliation with God and His Church, repenting of our sins and receiving God's pardon and forgiveness from Jesus through His Church.  


 

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