Sunday, March 28, 2021

Palm Sunday

Our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem, and our participation in it, begins the fulfillment of his words in St. John’s gospel: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” Jesus is drawing our community into this great mystery which has many elements: witnessing and passing through judgment; being drawn to the one lifted up; and making a choice, a radical choice. Our community has a special mission in these holy days: to allow ourselves to be drawn to the Lord, and thereby contribute to the lifting up of the Church and the world.

Let us begin with our being drawn into the judgment on this world. Our Lord was waiting all during his earthly ministry for the final confrontation with the ruler of this world, the father of lies whose nature is to lie, and who draws as many people as he can into his lies. Today’s gospel gives us many examples of this: the denial that springs from fear; the secrecy of a betrayal; the indignation when one’s security is threatened. We saw this played out by the different characters: Peter, Judas, the chief priests – choices made, hearts revealed – each person choosing either to allow himself to be drawn to the one who has been lifted up or to the one who has exalted himself with subtle lies from the beginning. The Lord is drawing our community into this great confrontation.

But let us come back to this question: how exactly does Jesus draw us; how does he touch us; how does he move us so that we will allow ourselves to be drawn? The passage from Philippians gives us the answer: He does it by his emptying, his kenosis. He draws us down by attracting us to his humility, and then he lifts us up by opening a path to the glory of God the Father. We see his goodness, and we want to be with him. We see his love outpoured and realize it is worth more than a life of independence, isolation, or holding fast to a piece of this world. Better to lose that life in order to gain the other.

Perhaps another way to put this is that we are drawn by Our Lord’s good zeal. He always tried to be the first to show respect for the other, even to those who opposed him. He showed the greatest patience for the weaknesses in body or behavior of those around him, especially his intimate community of disciples. He did not pursue what he judged best for himself, but only what the Father willed and what would be good for us. It is the beauty of his good zeal which draws us, and at the same time leaves us with a choice – will we allow ourselves to be drawn?

Brothers, the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. We are being drawn into that mystery and are passing with the Lord through the judgment on this world. The Church relies on us. She urges us during this Holy Week to allow ourselves as a community to be drawn through the kenosis of humility and obedience, so that she, too, and the whole world may follow in our footsteps and be drawn to the one who was lifted up for our sake.

Giotto, The Entry into Jerusalem. Dom Vincent's homily for this Palm Sunday.