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Bishop LaValley’s homily for Palm Sunday

Every year, as Pope John Paul II expressed it, on this special Sunday, “the curtain rises once again on the definitive drama of all history - the drama of our redemption.”

As we reflect on these events of the first Palm Sunday from the historical point of view, we might wonder what was in the heart and mind of Jesus on that Sunday. 

Monsignor Francis Kelly offers a good insight into this question.

He suggests that as Jesus rides into Jerusalem surrounded by people shouting “hosanna,” cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in His path, Jesus appears completely concentrated on something else.  He does not look at the excited crowd.  He does not wave.  He sees beyond all the noise to what is ahead of Him: an agonizing journey of betrayal, torture, crucifixion, and death.  His unfocused eyes see what nobody around Him can see. 

His high forehead reflects a knowledge of things to come far beyond anyone’s ability to understand.
There is a melancholy, but also peaceful acceptance. There is insight into the fickleness of the human heart, but also immense compassion.  There is a deep awareness of the unspeakable pain to be suffered, but also a strong determination to do God’s will. Above all, there is love, an endless, deep, and far-reaching love born from an unbreakable intimacy with the Father and reaching out to all.

I invite you to come with me this holiest of weeks and look into the eyes of Jesus at key moments of the drama of these next few days. Experience the depth of that far-reaching love Jesus has for you that led Him through this journey of such suffering.  Pay attention to the simple words that come from His lips.   Focus on His gestures so pregnant with meaning.Participate at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper Thursday night. Listen to the words as if it’s the first time you ever heard them:  “Take and eat…this is My Body…Take and drink, this is My Blood poured out for you.” 

As He washes their feet, listen to Jesus tell His closest friends, and allow these words to echo in your own heart:  “See what I have done, so also you must do.” And then, stay in the garden of agony!  Adore Him.  Stay awake that one hour with Jesus, that hour which found Him all alone.  

On that Friday called “Good,” come into this Sacred Space and join your family of faith as we walk the Passion Path together as true companions on the journey of faith.Be present at each station as if you were there so many years ago and gaze into the eyes of the One Who loved us to His death as He bore the burden of our sins.  And then, let us come back to this most beautiful Cathedral to experience the triumph of Light over darkness as we celebrate Christ’s victory over death!  Yes, we return here to welcome new members into this family of faith and to rejoice in the full initiation of others into this Mystical Body of Christ!

As we participate in all of these most solemn moments of our faith story, we keep our eyes and hearts focused on Jesus’ words and on His gestures, what He says and what He does.  They will reflect a deep, intimate love for His Father, reflected in what He does for you and for me. 

As we conclude this Passion Sunday Liturgy, once again this year we will leave our cathedral in silence, ready to focus our eyes and sensitize our ears as we are about to enter the drama, responding to Jesus’ call, “Follow Me.”
Let us now enter this divine drama of love in motion.

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