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Bishop Denis’ Homily on Palm Sunday 2023

Palm Sunday – Year A: 02.04.23
St. Peter & Paul’s Church, Portlaoise @ 10am
Mass broadcast by Shalom World TV


Today is the sixth and last Sunday of Lent. We know it best by other names: Palm Sunday, Passion Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Lent continues until Thursday evening, the beginning of the Sacred Triduum.

It’s sometimes hard to land on what precise message we are to take with us from St. Matthews’ Passion Narrative just proclaimed. Perhaps the text from Isaiah, the psalm or the message from St. Paul get lost in the length of the Passion Narrative that follows?

The Passion is not just something that is done to Jesus, it is a power within Him. His passion allows Him to face violence and pain at its worst. The movement around the Supper Table. The tears in Gethsemane. The foolishness of Judas. The denial of Peter. The sham trial. The sarcastic undertones. The Centurions Profession: “in truth this was a son of God” . The final cover-up: “this last piece of fraud would be worse than what went before” .

Holy Week invites us to make the Passion our own. To walk in the sandals of Jesus; to shoulder the cross with Simeon; to fall as He stumbles and trips; to allow a stranger towel our face; to stand alongside Him in Pilates courtyard; to feel the nail penetrate our skin; to allow ourselves be hoisted on a Cross; to watch every friend turn the other way.

We are not invited this week to celebrate pain or suffering, but to give thanks for Jesus. For all those falsely accused, unjustly condemned, tortured and shunned by family and friends. Jesus is by their side and so should we.

Matthews gospel is not just an eye-witness account, all the time he is asking what is the minimum we need to do, to be His disciple? There is something about being authentic like Jesus, not just doing the right thing, but living up to His teaching no matter what the cost.

It brings us back to the ‘Parable of the Two Sons’ also told by Matthew. Two sons invited to go to work in a vineyard, one said No and later thought better and went; the second said Yes, but didn’t go. May we be true to our word and our action, like Jesus and that first son this Holy Week. Amen.