Fr. RJ Carr’s Homily for Palm Sunday 2022
In order to understand today’s Gospel, we can best see it in light of the second reading. St. Paul is teaching us who Jesus is and the first thing we learn is that although he was in the form of God, he did not see equality with God as something to be grasped at. Instead, he took the form of a slave. He became totally obedient to the father and in doing so he lived the law perfectly. The reason is because of his love for the Father and his love for us.
It is true that Jesus could have rejected the whole idea; in fact, in the Garden of Gethsemani, he begs for another avenue to complete the work. However, the father demands that he fulfill the plans. This small conversation of which we only hear one side is him being totally obedient to the Father. Why? Out of love for the Father and love for us.
This is the law perfectly embodied. Jesus denies himself out of love for the Father and is obedient to the father out of love for us. This is literally what love in action means.
We can compare ourselves to him but that would miss the point. You and I do not have the ability to act in the same way because although we are fully human, we are not also fully divine. Therefore, we do not have the ability to obey God to the level Jesus does for we do not have the mind of God. Our whole life is one in which we struggle to grow more in divine wisdom which informs our human wisdom. Jesus since he is fully human and fully divine he is the fullness of divine wisdom which informs human wisdom. In that, he could deny himself out of love for the Father and love for us.
We can therefore look at this whole account which we have heard and see it also as a manifestation of love beyond our full appreciation. We understand that this is how much God loves us but we cannot fully comprehend it for our minds are not big enough to appreciate it. It is just not possible.
We do not have the capacity to fully understand what Jesus did for us
Think of it as a file that needs to be downloaded in order to fully appreciate Jesus’ act in its fullness and we do not have the hard drive capacity to fully appreciate it. So our ability to understand it may grow fully and at best we can just look at it in awe.
However, this goes even further for Jesus dies for all-the most good human being whom everyone recognizes as a living saint and the most evil human being whom everyone sees as the devil incarnate. Jesus died for each of those people and everyone in between.
We see something else. The pharisees are closed to understanding this for they have hardened hearts. It is not that Jesus will not do anything for them, it is that their hearts are closed to him and they cannot appreciate all he does. Going back to the download model, it is like they refuse to download the file to comprehend his action not even the tiniest bit of it. They have other information they choose to download so they just won’t download this file.
The big W
I was giving some thought recently to proofs of God’s existence and I realized maybe one of the biggest proofs can be found in a comedy movie called It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Bear with me on this one. The characters learn that there is a great buried treasure under a big W in some Los Angeles park. They rush to the park but they cannot find the big W. The camera pans back and there are four trees that from that distance form a big W. They cannot see it but we can.
So let us look at the reality of good in a different way. Many people will tell you that God does not exist and one of the proofs is the evil in the world. Maybe even the current war itself is proof of there not being a God they may say. However, maybe the war is the proof there is a god, we cannot comprehend it.
Let us assume, however, that nothing of what we believe as Catholics is true. There is no such thing as original sin or even sin itself. There is no need for salvation, etc., etc. Why is there evil in the world?
If Vladimir Putin some of the other leaders in the Eastern European Countries who are aligned with him understood the action of Jesus on the Cross would they engage in war? Remember, even if they see the western values as a threat to their Russian-based values that does not justify the killing of others. If they instead sought to do the will of God knowing that God’s will is rooted in self-sacrificing love for each and every person even the worst how could anyone even us justify any weapon? In the same light, how can we? We can only do so by rejecting the concept of the intense love we see on the cross. We can say we believe in it but do we if we do not seek to embrace it.
The secular idea in Imagine
In our country, one of the great inspirations of the secular forces is John Lennon’s Imagine. However, Imagine is rooted in the concept that we can create the perfect world. We cannot. If we want to create a perfect world we can only do so by meditating on Jesus’ actions to save us from eternal damnation. We can only stand in awe at what he did for us and seek to explore the depths of this love. What did he save us from, many will say Hell, but what he saves us from is a world of our own making on the belief that we can create it. We can’t. John Lennon never understood that and neither do the secular forces that embrace his vision. Only by asking for the grace to grow in holiness can we fully understand this action today and embrace it.
What is most ironic is the person here who feels most farthest from God because of his or her sins is also most able to appreciate that action for Jesus died just as much for that person as he died for you in an act of divine love of the Father and love for each human being from here to Vladivostok.
Fr Robert J Carr is the author of Encounter Christ in Your Humanity
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Originally published at https://catholicaudiomedia.substack.com on April 11, 2022.