Friday, April 22, 2011

See How You Are Loved

Homily from Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday) - Year A

Today, on Palm Sunday, we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of Holy Week.  It was Holy Week that ultimately led me to decide to enter the seminary.

A handful of years ago, I simply decided I wanted Jesus more a part of my life.  And I decided to get to know Jesus better by attending all of the Holy Week liturgies.  I went to Mass on Palm Sunday, the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral on Tuesday, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday, the Good Friday Service, And the greatest liturgical celebration of the whole year in the Church: the epic Great Easter Vigil on Saturday night.

It was during baptisms at the Easter Vigil that I decided to apply for the seminary.

This particular year, I was a parishoner at St. Pius X in Granger.  The pastor there is Monsignor Bill Schooler.  And for the baptisms, Monsignor Bill took off his chasuble, his shoes and his socks and walked into the knee deep water of the baptismal fount.  He called each of the people to be baptized into the water.  And as the elect entered, they got down on their knees so that the water was up to their chest.  Then Monsignor Bill took a pitcher, lowered it into the baptismal waters, filling it to the brim and poured it completely over their heads three times saying, "I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

As each person rose from the waters, reborn into the Body of Christ, the choir sang the "A word" which we're not allowed to say for a few more days so I'll let you figure that one out for yourselves.  Each baptism was triumphant and beautiful.

Then Monsignor Bill got to the last person to be baptized.  And it was a young boy who had trouble walking.  And it was very clear that this young man would not be able to walk down the steps of the baptismal font on his own, with the water swirling and so forth, without difficulty.

So, seeing this, Monsignor Bill reached over, picked the boy up in his arms, and lowered him three times into the water saying, "I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The boy let out a joyful "Whoooaaahhhh!" as he was swept through the waters.  The choir started singing, trumpets were blaring, people were crying everywhere.

And I said to myself, "That's it.  That's what I want to do."  That's what a priest does.  That's what Jesus does.  Jesus takes His creation into His arms, claims us for Himself, and gives us new life.

Now, I know I don’t have to tell you that Holy Week can be useful for discovering God’s will for all of our lives, not just those discerning priesthood or religious life.  By entering into the Passion of Christ, we discover who Jesus really is.

We just heard in the Gospel that it was when the centurion saw the death of Jesus and the immediate effects of that death (the veil of the sanctuary torn from top to bottom, earthquakes, tombs opening up, the dead rising from the grave) then, the centurion saw who this was and said, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

And when we discover who Jesus really is, we discover who we are. 

This Holy Week, we see the depths of Jesus’ love for us. 

On Holy Thursday, we see Jesus the Priest offer Himself to us under the form of bread and wine at the Last Supper and we see Jesus the Servant wash the feet of His Apostles.

On Good Friday, we see Jesus the Lamb of God, offer Himself in sacrifice on the wood of the cross, to take away the sins of the world.

And at the great Easter Vigil on Saturday evening and Easter Sunday morning, we see Jesus the King, rise triumphantly from the grave, victorious over sin and death.

Come… see Jesus each of these days.  See how loved you are by Him.

We are not despicable creatures.  We are loved by God.  And you will know who you truly are when you know you are loved by God.

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