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04/05/20 Palm Sunday - Fr. Reggie

Today all Catholics throughout the world turn their hearts and minds once again to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

That suffering won for all mankind the definitive victory over sin and hopelessness - a victory we declare and celebrate with these palm branches, the ancient world's symbol of triumph.

But let's dig deeper into this mystery of our salvation. Let's not be satisfied with the symbols

God is all-powerful. He could have chosen to save us from sin in many other ways. Why did he choose to do it by suffering? What is the meaning of the Passion? The Passion tells us with perfect clarity the message we most need to hear. The Passion of Our Lord says to us: God is faithful; you can trust him.

Trusting God is the most important thing for us, but it's also the hardest, because our trust has been violated.  We have all been wounded because people we trusted let us down, in little things and big things. As a result, we have all built up walls around our hearts, to protect ourselves from being let down again. But those walls also keep out God.

God knows that unless we let him into our hearts, we can never experience the happiness we long for. 

So he came up with a way to win back our trust: the Passion of Christ.

The Passion is God saying to us: "No matter what you do, I will keep on loving you. I will never let you down."  If we reject him, scourge him, crown him with thorns, betray him, even if we crucify him, he continues to love us: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." God's love and faithfulness doesn't depend on us being perfect, and it doesn't depend on his whims. He will never take it back. We can trust him - completely.

That's the message of the Passion. And it's the message that each of us, wounded and sinful as we are, most needs to hear.

We have to learn to trust God more and more in order to be transformed by him into the kind of person we know we should be.

Elisabeth Leseur was a Frenchwoman who lived from 1866-1914. She was a devout Catholic who was married to an atheist, Felix Leseur.  Her husband and his friends would tease and criticize Elisabeth for her faith, and this caused tremendous suffering. She offered up all of the sufferings that she endured for her husband. This suffering included both the ridicule of her husband and a painful form of cancer.  She made up her mind to pour herself out for her husband and to respond to his lack of love with a greater love. She wrote in her diary: “Let us beware: nothing is so delicate and so sacred as the human soul; nothing is so quickly bruised. Let each one of our words and deeds contain a principle of life that, penetrating other spirits, will communicate light and strength and will reveal God to them.”  After she died, Felix discovered her diary and was deeply moved by how much she had suffered for him. He returned to the Catholic faith and became a Dominican priest. In the 1920’s he gave a retreat to a young priest named Fulton Sheen, who was deeply marked by the stories Felix told about Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Leseur mirrored God’s love. God holds nothing back in his love for us. 

Christ wants to penetrate the walls around our hearts and bring us the assurance of his love. He wants to take the pressure off our lives. He wants to convince us that we don't need to struggle to earn his love, and that we don't need to be afraid of losing it. He wants to take our wounds upon himself, so that we don't have to suffer alone, and so that he can heal them.

Will we let him?

This week, this Holy Week, is a time for us to let him win over our hearts, to let him convince us that we can trust him.

But to do that we have to give him a chance. We have to carve out time to spend with him. When young couples go on a honeymoon, they go away to be alone together, so that their love can flourish. Holy Week is a time when we, the Church, the Bride of Christ, go on a honeymoon with Christ.

We shouldn't let this week be just like every other week. We mustn't let the special graces God has in store for each one of us go to waste.

We need to decide today that we will take the time to let Christ's victory penetrate our hearts a little bit more, so we can experience life more and more as he means us to experience it, a life of peace, with the pressure off. 

We should take some time to be alone with the Lord, and to worship him

Let's start right now, with the rest of this Mass: listening, loving, and letting Christ in.

 

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