Thursday, April 6, 2017

Homily Palm Sunday ABC: Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily  Palm Sunday ABC: Michael Ufok Udoekpo
 Processional Readings ABC:
·         Matthew 21:1-11;
·          Mark 11:1-10
·          Luke 19:28-40.
Christ’s Humble Entrance into Jerusalem,
Every year the Church celebrates Palm Sunday which ends the Lenten Season and marks the beginning of the most Holy week in our Christian Liturgy.  It is a week our savior will be exalted on the Cross. It is a week of that hour of glory come to fulfillment. This  is the week Christ, our Lord and Savior will be betrayed, falsely accused, plotted against (John 11:45-53), arrested (Matt 26:47-56), interrogated by Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin ( Matt 26:57-58), tried by Pilate ( Matt 27:1-14), denied by Peter (Matt 26:59-66), mocked and executed in a Roman way ( Matt 27:15-56).  It is a week Christ will draw all people to himself, Jews and the Gentiles, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 12:32). It is a Holy and Salvific Week for us; a week of grace; a week of victory over death and injustice, lies and hatred; a week we see new life in the death of Christ. It is a teaching week for our religious communities, families and homes.
 It is a week we also learn to resist evil not with violence, not by chopping off “Malchus’ ear,” but with prayer, endurance and through peaceful process of dialogue and reconciliation. A week we learn not to act like Pilate, remaining indifferent to truth nor being in a hurry to condemn our neighbors, brothers and sisters, friends and children. It is a week each of us is invited to the foot of the Cross, a week Mary will be handed over to us the faithful disciples of Christ (John 19:25ff). Our nations in unnecessary political divides can also learn from this week.
Usually before the principal Mass our palms which will be turned into ashes for “renewal” next year are blessed. A moment from now we shall reenact the Gospel story we have just heard from Matthew 21:1-11. Like those ordinary people, those pilgrims in the street of Jerusalem (those men, women and children) who gave Christ a royal welcome to Jerusalem for his paschal mystery we are also prepared in our pilgrimage  to embrace Christ with enthusiasm, to welcome him into our lives in the Eucharist we are about to celebrate today. Through the  “Hosanna” (Psalm 118:26; Mk 11:1-10 and Luke 19:28-40) we sing we shall be inviting Christ, Son of David, the King of Israel to “save” us, to come into our lives, into our homes, offices, parish communities and families.
Again from that Gospel (s) Reading (s), He is a humble King, a King of Peace, riding on a donkey instead of a horse. Remember at the time of David and Prophet Zechariah (cf 9:9) the donkey had been a sign of kingship, but later an animal for the poor, while the horses came to represent the might of the mighty. Christ today presents us the image of a King of peace arriving Jerusalem on a donkey not on a bullet and nuclear proof presidential Limousine.
With this we are reminded not only of Christ’s humility, his identification with the poor, but also his fearlessness, his prophetic courage to conquer death even death on a cross.
Let us now with enthusiasm go forth in peace, praising Jesus our Messiah, and welcoming him to the holy city of the Jerusalem!
 Homily Palm Sunday Years ABC: Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Isa 50:4-7;
·         Ps 22:8-9, 17-18,19-20,23-24;
·         Phil 2: 6-11
·         (A) Matt 26:14–27:66
·          (B) Mk 14:1–15:47
·         (C) and Luke 22: 14–23:56
Christ’s Victory over Death
Today begins our Holy Week, the Passion Week, and the most Sacred Week of our Liturgical Seasons. It is marked with the blessing of our palms and solemn procession into the church with songs of “Hosanna to the Son of David…! This marks Jesus arrival in the city of Jerusalem, where he began his ministry. From this joyful entry of Palm Sunday, things would change quickly from Hosanna to crucify him!  Not an empty change. But a change for hope, endurance and faith that leads to life eternal on Easter Sunday!
This is true from the readings, especially from the passion narrative, just read (this year from Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Clearly, Jesus is the center of focus in that long passion narrative. What have you learned? What have you heard? What does the narrative say to you? Endurance, peace, hope, forgiveness, human brutality, or rush to judgment or what?
 As we read and listen to this passion story Christ is  betrayed, falsely accused, plotted against (John 11:45-53), arrested (Matt 26:47-56), interrogated by Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin ( Matt 26:57-58), tried by Pilate ( Matt 27:1-14), denied by Peter (Matt 26:59-66), mocked and executed in a Roman way ( Matt 27:15-56).
How do you feel when someone betrays you or accused you falsely? This is what Christ had to go through so that we could learn a lesson that evil could be resisted without violence, but with hope and prayers and dialogue. With this passion, we learn that this week is a week we learn from Christ’s event the danger of indifference displayed by Pilate and of the rush to condemn one another without facts and evidence.
Even as a nation, parish, faith community and family, we can in this week also learn from Jesus how to love, how to suffer and how to endure persecution and injustices. Of course how to “sing” the song of the suffering servant of God. As a nation, city, county, diocese, parish and family we can learn once again from Christ, the power of love, the spirit of forgiveness and the place of suffering. The role of the suffering servants and of the cross in our lives!
This role of the suffering servant was long foretold in today’s first reading, Deutero- Isaiah (Isa 50:4-7).  In it, the Lord gives the servant a well-trained tongue that he might know how to speak to the weary, the weak, the poor and the powerless. The Suffering servant is skillful and knows how to endure. He is humble and gets up when he is down. He does not complain unnecessarily, handles insults, beatings, mockery, and spitting with patience, wisdom and grace and humility.
This is why St. Paul sings of him in the 2nd reading that, “Christ Jesus though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God, something to be grasped…he became obedient to death, death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-11).
 For us today, it could be challenging to imitate Christ, the suffering servant, in his journeys to the cross, in his suffering, in his endurance, in his handling of Pilates and his would be assassins, in his forgiveness of his enemies, in his love without limit, in his patience, humility and generosity!
This is the mystery. With God everything is possible. The tomb would never be the end. When we encounter frustrations, brokenness, injustices, persecution, bullying, racism, discrimination, nepotism, unimaginable difficulties, acute challenges and set-backs today, I suggest let us turn to the nearest crucifix, and realize that in our sufferings we are not alone. The Christ of the Palm Sunday is with us. The Christ of the Good Friday is with us. The Christ of the Easter Sunday continues to be with those who hope and trust in him!
Reflection Questions:
1.    How do you feel when deep within you... you know you are falsely and unjustly accused and how do you handle it?
2.    How do you relate or encourage members of your faith community to relate to the Ebed YHWH- the Suffering Servant of the 2nd reading (Isa 50:4-7) and who do you think is the suffering Servant?
3.    What are the crosses in your life and how often do you turn towards the nearest crucifix with you pains and sufferings?
4.    Have you ever been betrayed, feel betrayed? With today’s passion narrative or bible readings can you come to a conclusion that you are not alone, that Christ is with your, He is the Way, the Life, and the Truth?