Palm Sunday

Why do you suppose that we read the Gospel on Palm Sunday as a play?  Why don’t we just read the Gospel the same way we do the other fifty-one weeks of the year?  The reason is because the Church wants us to participate; to be part of the scene that took place so many centuries ago.

Notice the transition that takes place in a half hour during mass.  At the beginning we all waved our palm branches and welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem.  “Huzzah!  Alleluia!  Jesus is the Messiah!”  Yet, now, just barely thirty minutes later we’re demanding that He be put to death.  “Crucify Him!”  That’s what you said, isn’t it?  It didn’t take long for us to turn on Him.

What happened in that week so long ago was almost as fast, especially if you measure it by the yardstick of history.  Just a couple of days and the chief priests and the elders convinced the people that Jesus wasn’t who He said he was.  He was a fraud! He was a liar!  The people had been duped!  The mob mentality took over and Jesus was killed.  His former friends and followers demanded that a murderer be released, not Jesus.

When we play our part in this story, we’re reminded that Jesus died for our sins.  Our sins were the reason He had to die.  Every time you and I commit a sin, it’s like we’re yelling “crucify Him” all over again.  Every time we lie or cheat or take a stapler home from the office, we’re yelling “crucify Him!”  When we talk about someone behind their backs or when we turn our backs and look the other way when millions of unborn babies are killed, we yell “crucify Him!”  

The time that elapses between our worshipping God and singing His praises at mass and our turning on Him with our actions, can be just minutes.  C’mon, we’ve all done it.  We exchange the sign of peace, receive Holy Communion, then we leave church and pull out on Lafayette Avenue and someone cuts us off.  We react by yelling or giving them the one-finger salute and there we are, “crucify Him!”.  Sometimes we even pass judgement on  others while we’re still here in church.  We haven’t even left the building and we’re yelling “crucify Him!”

Fortunately Jesus’ response if always the same:

“Forgive them, Father.  They know not what they do.”

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday.  It’s the day when we read Luke’s account of the Passion of the Lord.  The people in the pews have taken the part of the crowd gathered in Jerusalem to witness the capture and “trial” of Jesus.

Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!

What were you thinking when you said those words?  Are they just words in a script, something you said because it’s your part?  Or do they have any special meaning to you?  I’d like to suggest that you give them serious thought because every time you sin, you say those words even if you don’t realize it.

Jesus died for our sins.  Not just for the sins of the people in Jerusalem;  not for the people who lived up to and including the time of His death.  Time is a human invention.  God exists outside of time.  He doesn’t change the future, but He knows the future.  As Jesus hung on that cross, He was dying for your sins and my sins just as surely as He was dying for the sins of the very people who yelled “Crucify Him!”

So, when you tell a lie, when you fail to love your neighbor as yourself, when you don’t come to mass or when you fail to adhere to the Church’s teachings on marriage and procreation you’re yelling “Crucify Him!” just as surely as you did just a few minutes ago.  When you fail to help the poor:  “Crucify Him!” When you look the other way while your employees in Washington DC pass laws that encourage abortion:  “Crucify Him!” When you go along with the crowd, giving in to worldly temptation even when you know better.  “Crucify Him!”

But there is good news.  Remember what HE said.  “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”