Homily for April 13, 2014: Palm Sunday

Back in the 1960s, there was a TV show called “That Was The Week That Was,” which satirized current events.  In many ways, it was a precursor to “Saturday Night Live” or “The Daily Show.”

Well, what we are beginning today will commemorate the ultimate “week that was.”

I’d like to take just a moment to invite you to think about what the days ahead mean to us.

The liturgies of this week are powerful and primal. We are a part of something both ancient and new, and what we do this week reminds us of that. The altar will be stripped. The cross will be venerated. The tabernacle will be emptied. The Blessed Sacrament will be moved. Bells will be stilled.

It is unlike any other time in our Catholic calendar.

This week, we need to take time to think deeply about what we are doing, and what we are remembering.  Take time to realize what this week has meant to the world.

For close to two thousand years, we have gathered like this, in places like this, to light candles and chant prayers and read again the ancient stories of our deliverance and redemption.

But are we aware of what we are doing? Do we understand what it means? Do we realize the price that was paid?

This week, take a moment in each day that passes to wonder: What was Christ doing during this time of that one week all those centuries ago? What was on His mind on Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday? What sort of anguish? What kind of dread?

Has anything we have ever worried about, or lost sleep over, or agonized about, even come close?

He was “a man like us in all things but sin.”  He must have been terrified.  Long after the others had drifted off to sleep, did he stay awake and worry? Maybe he sat up alone, late at night, deep in thought or silent prayer.  He was preparing for a martyr’s death. What went through his mind?  Did he know doubt? Uncertainty? Did he wonder if there was another way? Did he wonder if there was any way to spare those he loved, especially his mother, from what was about to happen?

Perhaps more than once he thought, somehow, of all the others who would follow him.  All the other lives, including yours and mine, that would be changed by what he was about to do.

Ultimately, that is what should give all of us pause—and send all of us to our knees.

He did it for us.  

As you shop for Easter baskets and dye, and select your holiday lamb at Key Food or Trader Joe’s, I’d ask you to think of this. Ponder this. Make it a kind of prayer.

Remember what we are doing, and why.

Because, of all the calendars in all of human history, this is the one week that changed everything.  This is the week that saw the institution of the Eucharist.  It is the week that witnessed breathtaking betrayal, and denial, and torture, and heartbreak, and suffering, and death.

It is the week that would lead, ultimately, to resurrection.

Think of all that has happened because of this week.  All the martyrs and missionaries, saints and servants of God who gave everything – all because of what we are about to celebrate, and remember.

Because of this week, the world has ever been the same. 

This is “the week that was.”  Seven days that shook the world.

And the tremors haven’t stopped.


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