Homily for Palm Sunday - Year B - Mk. 11:1-10


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"When they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat; untie it and bring it. If any one says to you, `Why are you doing this?' say, `The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.' " And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door out in the open street; and they untied it. And those who stood there said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" And they told them what Jesus had said; and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it. And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!' "





Homily:


"When they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat; untie it and bring it.' "


This Sunday, one week before Easter, we celebrate the greatest event in the life of the Lord: his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On that day, indeed, Jesus anticipates and already realizes, in a way, his glorious and triumphal return at the end of time. Each year, in a way that is ever more real, because it is ever nearer to its final realization, this solemnity allows the Church and, through her, the whole world to acclaim the Son of God as the true King of the Universe, he to whom all must subject themselves, in heaven, on earth, and in hell. Each year, in her faith in the Son of God, who died and was resurrected, the Church celebrates this celestial liturgy in which the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings is truly recognized by all for who he really is: the Creator and Master!


Jesus is going towards Jerusalem. Throughout the ages, year after year, the Church too goes towards the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Holy City that Saint John saw coming down from God. "I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." (Rev. 21:2) But the Heavenly Jerusalem is not an ordinary city: it is a city of living stones, a city made up of the saints and of all the elect of God. Thus, when the Church goes towards Jerusalem, following Christ, she goes towards her perfect image, towards that which she must become more and more: the holy and immaculate bride of Christ. Like the Heavenly Jerusalem, the Church must come down from God, that is, she must humble herself and acknowledge herself to be unworthy of the place she holds in heaven, before God. It is by acting in this way that the Church will be glorified with Christ. For he who humbles himself will be exalted: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Mt. 23:12)


We all need to practise humility: if we want to be glorified with Christ, our Savior, we must acknowledge that God is our Creator and our Master, and that everything must be subject to him, our body as well as all the faculties of our soul. The disciples whom the Lord sent to get a colt possessed this humility which glorifies: they manifested it by faithfully obeying the command of Jesus. Let us imitate them in our everyday life, let us be faithful to the commands of God and the Church, let us humbly obey the commands we receive from those whom God has placed to guide us towards this glorification with Christ the Master and Lord of the Universe!


" 'If any one says to you, `Why are you doing this?' say, `The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.' " And they went away, and found a colt tied at the door out in the open street; and they untied it. And those who stood there said to them, "What are you doing, untying the colt?" And they told them what Jesus had said; and they let them go."


Of the three evangelists - Luke, Mark, and Matthew - who recount this episode, Saint Mark provides us with the greatest amount of detail. It is quite probable that Saint Peter - from whom Saint Mark received his account of what happened - was struck by the event, to the extent that he remembered all of its details. And, above all others, this detail (which is reported only by Saint Mark): "they let them go" - that is, the owners of the colt put up absolutely no resistance to the action of the disciples of Jesus. Isn't this astonishing? Absolutely! For, anyone would put up at least some resistance if someone else tried to take away what belongs to him. But in this case, there is nothing of the sort! The reason for this is that the disciples responded exactly as Jesus had told them to: "They told them what Jesus had said."


It is in fact the force and power of the very Word of God which allowed the disciples of Jesus to obtain without hindrance a colt for the Lord. Jesus is God and his word is almighty, especially when this word includes the very word "Lord", as it did in this case: "If any one says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' say, 'The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.' " But how can it be that these words of the Lord have the same force, the same power, coming from the mouth of the disciples as when they come from the mouth of Jesus? Quite simply, because the disciples firmly believed that what Jesus had said was indeed going to take place! This occurence, the fact that the owners of the colt did not put up any resistance after the disciples had replied to them using the very words of the Lord, testifies to the faith of the disciples in the prophetic words of Jesus!


"And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it. And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed cried out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!' "


Jesus' mount was adorned with the clothing of the disciples! This was done as much out of concern for ornamentation and dignity as from a very firm desire on the part of the disciples to unite themselves with the triumph of the Master. Clothing is an image of the person: it possesses a person's form and all his proportions. The clothing of the disciples, thrown on the colt, is a manifest sign of the unity which exists between the Lord and his Body, which is the Church. For the disciples, it is an honor to lend Christ something personal. In a sense, it is the disciples, just as much as the Master, who are acclaimed by crowd: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!"


The "last day", the day that will see the return of the Lord, the Son of David, will not be a day of sadness and tears: it will be a day of joy and happiness! "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom that is coming!" It is of that day that the Psalmist speaks when he says: "I shall be satisfied when your glory appears!" (Ps. 16:15) May we have enough humility to be glorified with Christ on that day! May the Lord grant us the grace to believe in his prophetic words, as the disciples did, so that, through Mary, with Her, and for Her, all of us might enter the Kingdom of God, singing without end: "Hosanna in the highest!"