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04/0817 Palm Sunday - Fr. Reggie

We just heard the narrative of the Passion and Death of Jesus. The most holy days of our faith – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday - are approaching. Let’s think about that word “passion” for a minute. It comes from the Latin word patior, which means to suffer. We also say we have a passion for something when we really love it. So suffering and love are somehow connected.

And St Paul brings this out in the second reading today, from the letter to the Philippians. Jesus was in the “form” of God. The Greek word we translate as form means something unchangeable. He is saying that Jesus is really God.  St Paul also tells us that Jesus emptied himself for us. The verb in Greek is kenoun. It means to empty, to pour out until nothing is left. This is what Jesus did out of love for us. He is God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. He became a man. He lived the life we live; he experienced the joys we experience; he suffered the sufferings we suffer. And he died.

We all have a great question in our lives. Am I loved? We can run from that question, we can try to answer it in a thousand ways, but it keeps coming back. Is there someone who loves me enough to die for me?

St Paul assures us that the answer is yes. And that someone is God himself.

God holds nothing back in his love for each one of us. In Jesus, he pours himself out for you and for me. 

In his book Rediscover Catholicism Matthew Kelly provides the following analogy. Imagine there’s an incurable virus raging around the globe. Before you know it, it’s reached the United States. It sweeps from coast to coast and people die in droves. Panic is everywhere. Then there’s an announcement. They can make a vaccine, but it will take the blood of someone who has not been infected. Everyone goes to the hospital to have his blood tested. You go with your family. They take a few drops of blood from everyone, and then tell you all to wait outside. A few minutes later a doctor comes running out, screaming. He yells someone’s name. You can’t hear it at first, but then your young son tells you “they’re calling my name.” The doctor tells you that your son has the right blood type and isn’t infected. They can make the vaccine from his blood. But there’s a problem. The doctor pulls you aside and tells you, “We weren’t expecting it to be a child…” You ask him, “How much blood will you need?” He responds “All of it.” Your son gives up his life so that others may live.

This is what God did for us. God holds nothing back in his love for us. 

Because Christ loved us first, we can love others with a love that holds nothing back. And charity begins at home! Here are three simple action items from today’s homily. Each day, thank God for 1 thing you’re grateful for in one of your immediate family members. Write it down. The next point flows from that. Speak positively of that person. It’s simple, but difficult. It’s worth it though. It brings so much peace. And when we’re actively reflecting on the gift that someone else is to us, it’s much easier to find positive words about that person. Finally, each day, find one way to show your love for that person. Maybe it’s just a smile. Maybe it’s a letter or a phone call. But find one thing.

So 1 thing you’re grateful for about someone in your immediate family, speak well of that person, and show your love. And now we prepare for Christ’s coming. Christ is coming to us in the Eucharist today, in this Mass. His love is made present for us. We receive him with wonder, and we ask him: “Lord, help me to love with a love that holds nothing back.”



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