Palm Sunday Year A

            Today we hear the longest Gospel of the year, but in her wisdom, the Church leaves explicit instructions to the preacher that he should only give a brief homily.[1] How then is a priest supposed to summarize the whole story of Holy Week briefly? Well of course that’s not possible and fortunately it’s not necessary because we are given the entire week to make this journey with Christ.

            Today’s long account of the passion is intended to be the overture to Holy Week and an invitation to each of us to journey with Christ through these sacred days. So, will you accept the invitation to journey with Christ and truly make this week holy? Sure, this year, the coronavirus gives us all kinds of excuses to let this week pass like any other. All of us are feeling either the physical, financial or emotional stresses of this pandemic and to make it worse we can’t gather to celebrate the ancient and sacred liturgies of Holy Week, but that doesn’t mean we can’t journey with Christ this week through the cross to the glory of the resurrection.

            Our journey through Holy week will certainly be different this year. Our churches will be closed for public celebrations but Christ is not quarantined. Even though we cannot worship together, each of us can seek him in the tabernacles of our own hearts. So, let me leave you with some suggestions for how you and your family may be able to navigate Holy Week this year.

  1. Today – Palm Sunday
    1. Read Matthew 21: 1-11 together as a family
    2. Come to church, pray for a moment and take a palm home with you
  2. Holy Thursday
    1. Read John 13 as a family
    2. Have family dinner with no distractions
    3. Say a prayer for priests when you pray before dinner
    4. At the conclusion of dinner read John 17 together
    5. Come to church in the evening to pray with Jesus in the garden
  3. Good Friday
    1. Observe a time of silence between 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm
    2. Pray the stations of the cross as a family
    3. Come to Church and pray before the cross of Christ
  4. Holy Saturday
    1. Read Exodus 11 – 17:7 as a family
    2. Light a candle as a reminder that the light of Christ always consumes the darkness
  5. Easter Sunday
    1. Get up to watch the sun rise as you read John 20
    2. Come to Church to pray and take some Easter holy water home
    3. Renew your baptismal promises as a family and sign yourself with the Easter water

There is no doubt this Holy Week will be different, but that doesn’t mean this week can’t be holy. Did you notice that the beginning of today’s Gospel we heard about a large crowd gathered to welcome Jesus into the city of Jerusalem, but by the end of the Gospel only a few remained with Christ at the cross? While it is easy to follow Christ, when things are going well, it’s only when the journey becomes difficult that we can discover who the real disciples are. The pandemic has made it difficult so here is our chance to be a disciple. Holy Week is here. Will you rise to the challenge as a disciple and allow it to truly be a holy week or will you let the coronavirus, which has already taken so much from you, also take the joy of Easter which comes from following Christ through the passion to the resurrection, from you as well.

[1] Instruction 8 from the Mass of the Passion of the Lord

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