Preacher’s Sketchbook: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

March 25, 2012

Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.


Pope Benedict XVI:

“The Synoptics each contain three prophecies of Jesus’ Passion as steps in this ascent, steps that at the same time point to the inner ascent that is accomplished in the outward climb: going up to the Temple as the place where God wished ‘his name [to] dwell’, in the words of the Book of Deuteronomy (12:11, 14:23). The ultimate goal of Jesus’ ‘ascent’ is his self-offering on the Cross, which supplants the old sacrifices; it is the ascent that the Letter to the Hebrews describes as going up, not to a sanctuary made by human hands, but to heaven itself, into the presence of God (9:24). This ascent into God’s presence leads via the Cross—it is the ascent toward ‘loving to the end’ (cf. Jn 13:1), which is the real mountain of God.”

Pope Benedict XVI:

“For the infant Church, ‘Palm Sunday’ was not a thing of the past. Just as the Lord entered the Holy City that day on a donkey, so too the Church saw him coming again and again in the humble form of bread and wine. The Church greets the Lord in the Holy Eucharist as the one who is coming now, the one who has entered into her midst. At the same time, she greets him as the one who continues to come, the one who leads us toward his coming. As pilgrims, we go up to him; as a pilgrim, he comes to us and takes us up with him in his ‘ascent’ to the Cross and Resurrection, to the definitive Jerusalem that is already growing in the midst of this world in the communion that unites us with his body.”

Blessed Guerric of Igny:

“If today’s procession and Passion are considered together, in the one Jesus appears as sublime and glorious, in the other lowly and suffering…. In the procession the people meet Jesus with palm branches, in the Passion they…strike his head with a rod. In the one they extol him with praises, in the other they heap insults upon him. In the one they compete to lay their clothes in his path, in the other he is stripped of his own clothes. In the one he is welcomed to Jerusalem as a just King and Savior, in the other he is thrown out of the city as a criminal. In the one he is mounted on an ass and accorded every mark of honor; in the other he hangs on the wood of the cross, torn by whips…and abandoned by his own. If, then, we want to follow our leader without stumbling through prosperity and through adversity, let us keep our eyes upon him, honored in the procession, undergoing ignominy and suffering the Passion, yet unshakably steadfast in all such changes of fortune.

Saint Thomas Aquinas:

“There are…blessings which have flowed to us from the blood of Christ. First, the cleansing of our sins, and removal of wounds caused by sin…. Secondly, our Redemption…. Thirdly, our peace with God and the angels is assured through Christ’s blood…. Fourthly, Christ’s blood is drink and nourishment to all receiving it…. Fifthly, the gates of heaven were opened to us by the blood of Christ…. Sixthly, the deliverance of the souls of purgatory is effected through Christ’s blood.”

Saint Ambrose:

“It was not for pleasure the Lord of the world was borne a public spectacle upon the back of an ass, but that he might by the Mystery within him caparison the inner chambers of our soul, and as a Mystic Rider occupy an interior seat in the depths of our hearts, penetrating there as it were by a certain substance of his divinity, guiding the steps of the soul, restraining the wantonness of the flesh, so that made gentle by the hand of kindness, he might then wholly rule in the hearts of the Gentiles. Happy they who have welcomed this Rider in the inmost heart! Happy they whose mouth the reins of the heavenly Word hold fast, so that it may not be loosened by a multitude of words.”

Saint Leo the Great:

“Let human weakness bow down before the glory of God. May it ever find itself unequal to the task of unfolding the works of the divine mercy…. It is good for us to learn how little we truly know of the Majesty of God…. So no one may presume that he has found all that he is seeking; lest he cease to be close to Him who has ceased to draw near Him…. As often as we dwell, as best we can, upon his omnipotence, which he shares with the Father in one and the same nature, more wondrous does his lowliness seem to us than his power; and with more difficulty do we grasp his emptying himself of the divine Majesty, than his sublime uplifting of the form of a servant.”



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