“Come let us return to the Lord, for it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds. He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence.” (Hosea 5:15b-16:2)
Today the Church does not celebrate Mass, so the readings for today’s homily are taken from the Morning Prayer (Lauds). A huge and eloquent silence reigns in the Church today. We are between His death and His resurrection, and our faith is protected by Our Lady. She was and she is the first believer, who can help us wait in silence for the miracle of the resurrection.
“For our sake Christ was obedient, accepting even death, death on a cross. Therefore God raised him on high and gave him the name above all other names.” (In place of the Responsory)
“We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.” (IS 53: 6)
“We had all gone astray” from God. We are loved and respected by God, but we decided, so many times in our lives, to “follow our own way.” God is always taking care of us and never tired of forgiving. God laid upon Our Lord “the guilt of us all.”
“Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, ‘Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.’” (JN 13: 12-15)
Washing feet, the duty of servants, was done for the apostles by their “teacher and master,” by Our Lord. God himself gives them “a model to follow,” so that as He has done for them, they should also do for others. We will see this during Holy Thursday’s Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, but everyone is invited to respect and protect any other person’s dignity, to see her/him as better than me, as someone worthy of love, respect and service.
“I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: love one another as I have loved you.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” (IS 50: 4-5)
Every relationship needs communication. Friends love to share their lives. Everyday, “morning after morning,” Our Lord’s first word to us is about His love for us and how important our relationship is to Him. He also asks us to remember His words, that we“might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them” because we are His ambassadors, the ones who listen to Him.
“Hail to you, our King; you alone are compassionate with our errors.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Hear me, o islands, listen, o distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” (IS 49: 1)
We are “called from birth,” and Our Lord called us by name. He knows us from our mother’s womb, and even though we were so small, we received a name from Him. We are so important to Him, and He remembers all our names. Whatever He does during the Holy Week is because of you and me, not because of “humanity.” He loves by names.
“Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” (IS 42: 6-7)
Jesus came to us “as a covenant of the people,” to open our eyes—“those who live in darkness,” and to bring us out—prisoners of sin and weakness. Holy Week is a mystery of His love, where we are not observers, but participants, where we talk not about the past, but about the present.
“Hail to you, our King; you alone are compassionate with our faults.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (PHIL 2: 6-8)
Today we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion in the story written by Mark. Traditionally, we read John’s version only on Good Friday. The same story and the same Gospel about God’s love for us is even written by different authors because there is only one Gospel and only one Good News, like there is only One God. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, “though he was in the form of God . . . emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” to reveal the magnitude of God’s love through death on the cross–God for humans, Life for life and Love for love.
“Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“So Jesus no longer walked about in public among the Jews, but he left for the region near the desert, to a town called Ephraim, and there he remained with his disciples.” (JN 11: 54)
It looks like we have a similar situation in our day—Jesus’ teaching, protected by His Church, is eliminated from the public square: no right for crosses in public buildings, for Christian monuments or for signs of His presence outside the parish. Christmas and Easter have become “Holiday Seasons” and times for crazy shopping, but below this surface, there is a deeper life—the mystery of His love and what He did for us. He is so happy when He can “remain with His disciples.”
“Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” (JN 10: 32)
Our Lord came to us to reveal God’s love for us. All His “good works” came from His Father. All of His miracles and His teaching are about the same thing—how much we are loved. In response to these “good works from the Father,” they try to stone Him. What we can do is to answer with all our love for His love and do even something small to compensate for the pain He experienced. For example, during every Friday of Lent, we can assist Him on His way of the Cross with our love and gratitude.
“Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” (JN 8: 51)
Such comforting words: “will never see death”—there is only one condition:” whoever keeps my word,” and the very solemn promise: “Amen, amen, I say to you.” I hope that in Heaven somebody checks our blog and our fidelity; everyday we share His words to help each other keep His word alive and effective in our daily lives. One sentence a day keeps the devil away. 🙂
“If today you hear his voice; harden not your hearts.” (Gospel Acclamation)