Fr Thomas’ Homily for the Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Is Your Life a Blessing to Others

Once in a homily to children, I described the martyrdom of a saint.  At this some parents got up in arms, because they thought it is improper to speak of martyrdom and its horrors to children.  They would have their children wool wrapped to protect them from the harsh realities of life.  It is done with the good intention of them growing into a healthier and fuller life.  Are the parents right?  The truth of life is far from it.  No wool wrapping would make life greater, healthier, or full like cross bearing.  No life bears good fruits without sacrificial suffering born out of love for others.  Today, as we commemorate the suffering of Jesus and his death on the cross, we are reminded of this great Gospel truth.  It is not for nothing that we have a bruised and battered figure of Jesus hanging on the cross as the dominant icon in the church.  Similarly, you would have an imposing icon of crucified Christ in the prayer place at your own home.  After all the joy of Easter is celebrated at the end of a week of passion reminders.

In spite of all the brutality done to Jesus, he did not despair even in the agony of the Cross.  On the contrary Jesus, as he carried his deathbed – the cross, to Calvary, was dispensing ‘gifts’ to the people around him.  Because of Jesus, there was reconciliation between Herod the king of the Jews and Pilate the Roman Governor of Judea, who otherwise were arch enemies.   They shuttled Jesus between them during the trial. But while they were judging Jesus to be a condemned criminal, God gifted them with the goodness of reconciliation.  Jesus offered consolation to the weeping women.  To his killers, Jesus gave forgiveness. He prayed to Father in Heaven, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:35).  To the criminal hanging on a cross by his side, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  What a wonderful gift!  The ridiculing crowd challenged Jesus saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” (Luke 23:37).  Jesus did not respond to it, because saving himself was not what he came for.  The Roman centurion at the cross was gifted with ‘faith’.  He praised God (Ref Luke 23:46-47).  The crowd along the way were gifted with repentance.  They returned home beating their breasts (Ref Luke 23:48).  That means even in the worst of sufferings, Jesus was not self-centred.  While his life was being sacrificed, Jesus kept on dispensing gifts to make their lives fuller and redeemed.

As you too have to endure sufferings in your own life, are you able to walk with Christ?  Are you able to think of the good of others and spend your life for them in spite of your experience of rejection, ridicule, failures, and fragility?  You become ideal disciples of Christ when your lives are a blessing to others.  In the burdens of your life, can you see yourself being called to join Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus Carry the Cross?