Fr. John Marie Bingham’s Homily for Palm Sunday

Categories: Features

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (A)
Readings: Matt 21:1-11 | Isa 50:4-7 | Phil 2:6-11 | Matt 26:14–27:66

Dear Jesus
Our hearts are broken and our minds are reeling;
trying to prepare for this Holiest of weeks with the very rhythms of our lives askew …

O Jesus, what sadness
that this Holy Week, we, your faithful, can’t gather together to carry our palms before you
and sing Hosannas on the way!
Stripped from us are the victorious branches of this day … and yet …

Thank you, Jesus, for this year’s Palm Sunday … eerily barren
but lived more deeply than before.
For what we are denied reminds us of what we have denied you:
You desire us to be living branches on your vine,
and yet in our faithless self-indulgence,
how often we have cut ourselves off to wave our fronds over other fruitless fantasies
and lie dry and brittle in our sin.

But though we have no palms to wave,
though we may not sing Hosanna on the way …

We cover your path … not with palm branches but with our very selves, prostrate before you,
hearing your voice in the depths of our souls:
Let me enter, who am the king of glory!

O Jesus, what sadness
That this Holy Week, we, your faithful, can’t gather together to partake of the Eucharist
and sing Pange Lingua on the way!
Empty are our mouths of your Body and Blood … and yet …

Thank you, Jesus, for this year’s Last Supper … eerily unleavened
but lived more deeply than before.
For what we are denied reminds us of what we have denied you:
You desire us to be fully awake in the fire of your love,
and yet in our lukewarmness,
how many times we lie asleep,
not keeping watch with you in adoration
and consuming innocent souls in our insatiable search for satisfaction.

But though we cannot receive you in the Blessed Sacrament,
though we may not kneel down in humble worship as one Body together …

We dare to lean upon your breast as the beloved disciple,
hearing your voice in the depths of our souls:
Let me enter, who am the king of glory!

O Jesus, what sadness
that this Holy Week, we, your faithful, can’t gather together to kiss your Holy Cross
and sing the Reproaches mournfully!
Taken from our grasp the wood of your triumphant tree … and yet …

Thank you, Jesus, for this year’s Good Friday … eerily rough-hewn
but lived more deeply than before.
For what we are denied reminds us of what we have denied you:
You desire us to form a flock of followers united at the foot of your cross,
and yet in our pride,
how often we scatter astray as sheep, bleating with betrayal,
‘Forbid it, Lord,’ we cry, when the way is not of our making;
taking not your part, O Jesus, but ours … alone

But though we cannot kiss your cross together,
though we may not sing our lamentations as one …

We humbly hang ourselves with the thief on the cross asking you to remember us,
hearing your voice in the depths of our souls:
Let me enter, who am the king of glory!

O Jesus, what sadness
that this Holy Week, we, your faithful, can’t gather together outside your tomb
standing silently!
Obscured to our sight is the stone-sealed tomb that promises the harrowing of hell … and yet …

Thank you, Jesus, for this year’s Holy Saturday … eerily quiet
but lived more deeply than before.
For what we are denied reminds us of what we have denied you:
You desire our hearts to take courage and wait; to stoutheartedly wait for you, the Lord,
and yet how many times our despair-tinged fear,
introducing doubt and distrust,
drives from our hearts the peace you impart.

But though we struggle to be still and know that you are the Lord …

We join Magdalene in the garden, hearing your voice, speaking our name,
in the depths of our souls:
Let me enter, who am the king of glory!

O Jesus, what sadness
that as we begin this Holy Week, we know we cannot gather together
to celebrate the mysteries of our salvation … and yet …

Thank you, Jesus, for the grace of this year
for the very limitations imposed remind us of the limitations within.
How often our souls are like stones, unresponsive to your voice!

But, Jesus, how wonderful, for you declared, if the faithful do not cry out, the very stones will,
right merrily at the coming of the King!

Jesus, we look within and find ourselves unworthy once again,
but please, Lord Jesus, let our stony souls suffice!

For deep within we do, we do hear your voice, and out of depths, the cry emerges …
Enter, Lord Jesus … enter this soul more deeply than before!

O Lord of Hosts, in truth, we dare not approach you, but in your mercy, enter
and reign as king of glory over us and over all!

Yes, enter, O Jesus, enter;
and though we have nothing to give you but the very depths of our misery,
by the grace and gift of this year’s Holy Week:
Enter, reign as King
and lead us and all the world unto your glory! Amen!