Father Hanly’s homily for Palm Sunday, Year B, is short but beautiful.
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Mark 14:1–15:47 or 15:1-39
Each year, we hear the account of Jesus, his Father, the disciples, all the people of his time and the terrible account of the final days, the final week.
A week that begins with great joy, for Jesus is recognised as the Messiah, the One who the Jewish people prayed for and longed for through centuries and centuries, and finally he came.
And just at the moment it all seemed that everything was being fulfilled, that the world would finally know that God had triumphed, he’s arrested, put on trial, laughed at, ridiculed, found guilty.
Guilty of what?
Guilty of claiming that he had come from God and he was indeed the Messiah.
Perhaps the best place to find the beginning of an answer that would allow God, who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to us, and we destroyed him on the cross, and yet it ended in great triumph.
And the reason why we all sit here is not because he was wise, it was not because of the miracles he did or the wonders he performed, it’s because from beginning to end as a human being he made us understand who we really are.
I will read to you now the oldest poem, the oldest song, ever written by Christians from the beginning of time. And they wrote it, they were from Philippi, they were Philippians, and St Paul writes to them in his epistle and he quotes the poem that the people of Philippi, besieged under great persecution as Jesus was, and this is what St Paul writes to them:
“Christ the Messiah, Jesus our Lord,
though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
The Word of the Lord.
There’s only one sentence that explains all of this and it’s one that we can ruminate and think about forever and never penetrate its sweetness.
And that is when we say that he came out of love, that he lived out of love, that he died out of love and, because he put love in the centre of the world, it would never be removed.
And the one last and fine hope is to follow him, Jesus of Nazareth, who loved, who loved us all.