Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday

We began our liturgy this morning in the cloister with the blessing of palms and a procession into the Church. We do this as a way of enacting for ourselves what is referred to as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This procession also marks our entry into Holy Week. I sometimes wonder if the people who accompanied Jesus on that day really grasped what his triumph means. I wonder if we really grasp its meaning.

In Mark’s Gospel the scene immediately preceding the triumphal entry is the healing of the blind Bartimaeus. And that scene ends with these words: “Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.” Apparently, the newly sighted Bartimaeus joined in the procession into Jerusalem. Theologically, this scene is telling us that we will need new sight, a new vision to really understand what Jesus’ triumph is all about. If we want to be part of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, as well as our own entry into Holy Week, we will have to see triumph with a clearer vision, from a new perspective. We already know how the liturgical story of this week will unfold. We will be singing a number of times throughout this week, in whole or in part, the familiar chant Christus Factus Est - "being found in human form, he became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” 

If we are disciples of Jesus, no matter how weak or anemic our discipleship may be, let us not hesitate as we begin another Holy Week, a uniquely special one due to the coronavirus. Let’s not hesitate to cry out with Bartimaeus, for ourselves and for our world, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me…I want to see.” And let us trust that Jesus will respond by opening our eyes to a new way of being, a new way of living and dying for others. Because for Jesus, and so for us his followers, the only way is the way of kenosis - self-emptying; and the only real triumph is the triumph of self-emptying, the absolute abandonment of one’s self to God and to others; holding back nothing in reserve, as are so many health-care workers, risking and giving their lives during this crisis. 

Abbot Damian's Homily for Palm Sunday.