Preacher’s Sketchbook: Palm Sunday
April 9, 2014
Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s 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.
John Paul II, April 16, 2000
Abasement and exaltation: this is the key to understanding the paschal mystery; this is the key to penetrating God’s wonderful plan which is fulfilled in the paschal events.… Why, then, do so many young people meet on Palm Sunday here in Rome and in every Diocese? There are certainly many reasons and circumstances that can explain this. However, it seems that the most profound motive, underlying all the others, can be identified in what today’s liturgy reveals to us: the heavenly Father’s mysterious plan of salvation, which is brought about through the abasement and exaltation of his Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. This is the answer to the fundamental questions and anxieties of every man and woman, especially the young. For our sake, Christ … became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him”. How significant are these words for our own lives! You are beginning to experience the drama of life, dear young people. You ask yourselves about the meaning of life, your relationship with yourselves, with others and with God. To your heart, thirsting for truth and peace, to your many questions and problems, sometimes even filled with anguish, Christ, the suffering and humiliated Servant, who humbled himself even unto death on a cross and is exalted in glory at the right hand of the Father, offers himself as the only valid answer. In fact, no other response is as simple, complete and convincing.
John Paul II, September 15, 1987
The message of the crucified Son and of his Mother at the foot of the Cross is that the mysteries of suffering, love, and Redemption are inseparably joined together. In bitterness and alienation from God and our fellow human beings we will never find the answer to the question – the “why?” of suffering. Calvary teaches us that we will find an answer only through the “obedience” mentioned in the Letter to the Hebrews. It is not obedience to a cruel or unjust god of our own making, but obedience to the God who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3,16). Jesus prayed: “not as I will, but as you will… your will be done” (Mt 26,39 Mt 26,42). And Mary began her pilgrimage of faith with the words, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say” (Lc 1,38).
John Paul II, September 15, 1987
Looking upon the suffering Son and Mother in the light of Scripture, we cannot equate their obedience with fatalism or passivity. Indeed, the Gospel is the negation of passivity in the face of suffering (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Salvifici Doloris, 30). What we find is a loving act of self-giving on the part of Christ for the salvation of the world, and on the part of Mary as an active participant from the beginning in the saving mission of her Son. When we have striven to alleviate or overcome suffering, when like Christ we have prayed that “the cup pass us by” (Cfr. Matth Mt 26-39), and yet suffering remains, then we must walk “the royal road” of the Cross. As I mentioned before, Christ’s answer to our question “why” is above all a call, a vocation. Christ does not give us an abstract answer, but rather he says, “Follow me! ” He offers us the opportunity through suffering to take part in his own work of saving the world. And when we do take up our cross, then gradually the salvifìc meaning of suffering is revealed to us. It is then that in our sufferings we find inner peace and even spiritual joy (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Salvifici Doloris, 26).
Sunday Preacher’s Resource
Additional Preaching Resources
- The USCCB: Lent Resources
- The Holy See: Lent
- Fr. Thomas Rosica (Salt and Light Media)
- The Torch
- Fr. Francis Martin Website
- Biblius Clerus, a resource of the Congregation for the Clergy
- The Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Image: Octavio Ocampo, Palm Sunday