5th April 2020, Palm Sunday
What a beautiful day it has been today – perfect weather for a procession! What a pity we couldn’t have had it. But I know you have celebrated this first day of Holy Week in your homes and in your families and that you will continue to do so throughout the week. I hope most of you had palms. I celebrated Mass in the church at 11am. The angels and saints were all there with me and I know you were all there in spirit.
So today we celebrate the triumphant entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem, when the crowds cried out “Hosanna” and put palm and olive branches in His way. But He came very humbly riding on an ass as had been foretold in the Scriptures. Then within less than a week those “Hosannas” would turn into cries of “Crucify Him!”
In the Gospel JESUS is always aware of His Passion. He spoke about it many times. He prophesied it. This is why He came. As the great Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen loved to point out, “Every other person who ever came into this world came into it to live. He came into it to die.” So His Passion and Death was the whole purpose of His coming, and He longed for it. Why? Because He knew that due to sin, mankind was on the road to destruction and Hell, and because of His great love He wanted to save us from this. This is why we call Him ‘Saviour’. The name JESUS means ‘God saves’. But what humility! Remember He is God, and yet He rides into Jerusalem on an ass. And so this union of the Godhead with humanity enabled Him to take upon Himself all the sins of the world so that we could be forgiven.
So in all humility, we must recognise that we are sinners and that we need Christ. The world needs to recognise this. We need Palm Sunday. We need Maundy Thursday. We need Good Friday. And we need Easter Sunday. Only the God Man could pay the price of our sins. We read in the Letter to the Hebrews (10:4-7), “For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired,
but a body hast thou prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,’
as it is written of me in the roll of the book.”
The Old Testament sacrifices of bulls and goats blood were only a pre-figuring of the perfect sacrifice Christ would make as He poured out His Blood on the cross. This perfect sacrifice is made present on the altar at every Mass and appeases God for the sins of the world. This is why the celebration of Mass is so vital for the world. Unfortunately most governments don’t recognise this, but we do. It’s why St Padre Pio said, “It would be easier for the world to exist without the sun than without the Mass.” This is why a priest should offer Mass every day, even if it’s in private, and so we priests continue to do so even with church closed.
So yes, we’ve all sinned. The Book of Proverbs (24:16) says the just man falls seven times a day. But what is important is that we rise from our sins – that we repent and ask forgiveness, and it’s Christ who raises us up. Never despair because of your sins. One of the reasons Our Lord was born into this world as a tiny baby and that He entered Jerusalem on an ass surely has to be that He wanted to show us His great humility so that we wouldn’t be afraid to approach Him, to come to Him. He shows us how much God loves us and how much He wants to forgive us. And it’s through His Passion, Death and Resurrection that we have the forgiveness of our sins and that we are brought to eternal life. As we begin this Holy Week, let us thank God for His great love for us.