Celebrate Sunday Mass - Palm Sunday - 3.28.21

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3/26/2021 (3 weeks ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

March 28, 2021 -- Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...

I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS ON THE PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD in the Catholic Diocese of Tyler. The response to offering these liturgies online has been overwhelming. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them before we assist at Holy Mass. 

The week we call HOLY Week begins with proclaiming contrasting Gospel readings during the Liturgy of Palm or Passion Sunday. Before we enter the Church in a Procession waving Palm branches, we listen to the Gospel narrative and are invited to identify with the jubilant crowds welcoming the Master into Jerusalem. 

Once inside the sanctuary, the Liturgy of the Word begins. Before long, some of those same people shouted "Crucify Him" as the Passion Gospel is proclaimed. As I grow older the connection between the two gospels and the frailties of life have become clearer to me. 

Only by grace can I make progress in the path that leads to eternal life. What those contrasting Gospel accounts reveal draws me into this week called Holy- and its numerous times of prayer and reflection - It leads me to make an honest admission of my weakness and have an ever-deepening appreciation of the "Amazing Grace" given to us in Jesus Christ. 

The Passion narrative is filled with biblical characters with whom we can all identify. Each year we are called to reflectively prepare ourselves for the Holy Week services by doing just that.

In our first reading his Lords Day we hear words spoken by the suffering Servant of Yahweh. These words were written by the Hebrew Prophet Isaiah before the birth of Jesus Christ. Yet, we see they foretold the suffering Servant, Jesus the Christ, He will be whipped, and His beard will be plucked. 

Similarly, in the words of Psalm 22, our Response for this Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, we should see that these words, written prophetically by David centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, will be a part of the entire Crucifixion narrative this coming week. The Suffering, Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus was and is the fulfillment of the Fathers plan and offers us the path to true freedom and eternal life, if we respond in living faith. 

In our second reading, taken from the Letter of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians, we hear that Jesus emptied Himself and offered Himself for each one of us. He took upon Himself the form of a Servant. The words translated in English "emptied Himself", in Greek, is one word "KENOSIS". It means to be poured out completely. Jesus would shed every drop of His Sacred Blood and water and Blood will flow from His wounded side. 

The only fitting response to this beautiful act of Love from the Lord is to give ourselves back to Him. To empty ourselves - of self-love and be filled with His grace. It is then that we begin to discover the path to true freedom. It is in that self-emptying that we are truly converted and can begin to be used as His instruments in His ongoing redemptive mission. 

The Gospel passage appointed for this Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord is the story of the Anointing at Bethany. It is rich with many insights. Jesus was in Bethany, at the house of Simon, the man whom He had healed of Leprosy. This woman poured very expensive ointment over His head in an act of love and worship. It was also an acknowledgement of His identity as the promised Messiah. Yet, it was even more, as Jesus explained. It was a prophetic acknowledgement of His Coming Sacrificial death.

Yet, notice how some who purported to be "religious" responded at that moment. They criticized the woman and hid their own lack of spiritual vision behind a false claim of concern for the poor. Jesus uses this as a teaching moment. In fact, he not only affirms this beautiful act of worship, He says "In truth I tell you, wherever throughout all the world the gospel is proclaimed, what she has done will be told as well, in remembrance of her.'"

Now, notice that the passage ends with a reference to what Judas will soon do. Remember Judas chastised Mary of Bethany for pouring costly perfume on the feet of Jesus and said the perfume could have been sold and given to the poor (See, John 12) Jesus said to him "Leave her alone...She has kept this perfume in preparation for the day of My burial. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me." 

Judas also purported to be concerned with the poor. Then he betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

One of the many insights which this story should give to us is that worship of God is our highest priority and the instruments and implements of worship should ALWAYS be the finest. How often to do we hear people who, purporting to have a higher motive, criticize the beautiful vestments, chalices and other vessels used at Holy Mass. 

The great saints, including Francis of Assisi, the little poor man of Assisi, taught that the vessels and vestments used for Holy Mass should be beautiful, because what happens at the Altar is the worship of the Lord. This woman worshipped in Spirit and in truth. To use beauty to worship the source of all beauty is fitting and proper. This woman teaches us something important. Are we listening?

He came to die for us, so that we might live for, in, through and with Him. May this Holy Week be a time of great conversion. May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church, and the Nations of the world on this Lord's Day and throughout the remainder of this pilgrimage of faith called Lent. 

Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation

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