“On the Way”

Palm Sunday Homily

In the Name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier.Amen.

One of my first spiritual directors happened to be an expert on liturgy. He always said that, “Nothing makes an Anglican’s heart go pitter-patter like a procession.”

It’s true. Even those who aren’t Anglicans love to see the choir march down the aisle of the church, bursting with song. We know that, soon, we will experience the familiar sequence of comforting prayer and illuminating lessons from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The procession, then, is a visual sign that the liturgy is starting. To use a distinction provided by the philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, it “shows” rather than “says” that God is about to be worshipped.

The Palm Sunday procession heralds the final week in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. It reminds us that as Christ arrived in Jerusalem, he was proclaimed King of Israel by a local crowd, who waved palms to express their enthusiasm.

But the cheering cries of “Hosanna” reached the ears of the authorities and these powerful leaders felt threatened. So they plotted Christ’s arrest and punishment.

The procession out of the church at the end of today’s service shows the coming darkness of Christ’s last hours. In contrast to the joyous entrance into the church, the choir and clergy leave in silence, and the lights of the church are extinguished.

In between these two signs of Christ’s final days, we will also be presented with a third sign. As we now hear the text that describes Christ’s Passion and we participate in the reading of the long Gospel for Palm Sunday, these moving words will put before us another image: Christ upon the Cross.

This sign “shows” beyond all words that Christ suffered and died for us. Christ offered himself on behalf of a broken world; he offered himself to heal the brokenness in our own hearts.

No one can now think that God doesn’t care about human pain. Christ on the Cross is the supreme sign of the love of God for all of us. None of us has to suffer alone. Until the end of time, Christ shares our sorrows and bears our grief.

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Let us recall in words the Passion of our Lord. And let us keep before us the greatest sign of divine love.

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the Feast.

Amen.


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