Homily – Palm Sunday MMXII 4/1/12


Homily – Palm Sunday MMXII 4/1/12

When I was a seminarian studying for the priesthood, at the seminary I went to in Connecticut we would every year put on a play that many of the seminarians would act in.

We were probably the only seminary that did such a thing, and we mainly did it because for one, there was a young lay man taking theology classes at the seminary who had just got an undergraduate degree from the London Stage; and two, the seminary was very friendly with and close by to the Nuns of the Abbey of Regina Laudis. One of the Nuns at the Abbey is Sister Dolores Hart, a former famous movie actress who starred in a number of movies with Elvis Presley and still is a judge for the Oscars, and as a result a number of famous actors and actresses kind of hang out around the Abbey and would come to see our plays and even take the lead roles in a number of them.

One year we performed a Passion Play, which was a medieval retelling of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. Almost every man in the seminary was in it, and I had multiple roles: I was a blind man who was healed by Jesus on Palm Sunday, the Angel in the Garden of Gethsemane, Nicodemus, and the Angel who announced to Mary Magdalene that Jesus was risen from the dead.

 Academy award winning actress Patricia Neal attended the play one night, and when we asked her what she thought of it after the show she said “I adored the play – I simply adored it!”

As William Shakespeare said “All the World’s a Stage”, and today, the curtain opens on Holy Week 2012: Jesus rides into His Holy City, your heart and my heart, He rides into our Church and our world to once again be rejected, and betrayed, and abandoned by his best friends, and scourged and crowned with thorns and crucified and buried,and to rise victorious from it all, to forgive us of our sins and reconcile us to God and show us the Way which leads to true peace and eternal life.

 And each Holy Week, you and I and every human being is one of the characters in this drama of dramas, each one of us playing a major role in Christ’s suffering and death.

 Many of us are like those thousands in the crowds on Good Friday: Jesus in dying alone outside the city walls, and they could care less; they are more interested in the latest charismatic immoral media darling Barabbas.

Others of us find ourselves this year being one of the Pharisees: proud, in massive denial over our many sins, judgmental, looking down on the rest of humanity, most complicit in Jesus’ death.

Or maybe we are Nicodemus or Joseph of Aramethia: closet Christians, too afraid to stick our neck out and say we believe in Jesus for fear of what it would cost us or what others would say, and so we watch silently as He is crucified!

Maybe we are a Pontius Pilate or Roman Soldier: just following orders, not letting objective truth and right and wrong and our conscience rock the boat of our lives.

Maybe we are one of the Apostles: we love Jesus and want to die for Him, but in the hour of darkness find out we lack vigilance and courage.

Or maybe we are one of the two thieves: our sins have caught up with us and have totally made a wreck of our lives, and we start off by cursing Jesus for not getting us off this cross.

Or Simon of Cyrene: we were minding our own business, being a good person, when fate pushed a heavy, crushing cross onto our shoulders that we carry totally against our will.

Every human being has a role in the Passion, you and I and every man and woman will by our sins help nail Jesus to the Cross once again in our world this year.

But Jesus says to us from the Cross: I forgive you, I love you.

 But by God’s mysterious grace, each one of us is also called each year to play that lead role of Christ Crucified in one or more scenes.

 Some of us find ourselves this Holy Week being betrayed by their best friend, or being rejected by their peers or family members, or being abandoned, misunderstood, unfairly judged.

Some of us find ourselves this year suffering under great unbearable injustice, suffering great physical, emotional or spiritual pain.

Or we find ourselves this year playing the role of Mary, standing helplessly as someone we love dearly goes through such terrible suffering, and our hearts suffer alongside them.

The Curtain has opened, and the Passion Play 2012 has begun. Those of us who take our roles seriously will be rewarded with a lead role in the sequel, the Easter Play, coming soon to a theater near you, at the end of your life on earth.

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