Saturday, March 15, 2008

He died for us

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, March 16, 2008:

Jesus Christ “humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” In the liturgy, before the Second Vatican Council, on Palm Sunday after the reading of the Passion, there was no homily. Even the concluding acclamation: “The gospel of the Lord” was omitted. It was a proclamation that was greeted by a profound silence. Our liturgy today still calls for a respect for that silence. In the face of the Cross of Jesus, in recognition of his Passion and Death for us, the most eloquent response to this saving Word of God we have proclaimed is silence. The best, most profound homily that could ever be preached is right here in our midst and it uses no words – it is the Cross. Jesus did this for us – for each one of us.

We find Jesus on the Cross – not for any sin of His own, but for the sins of all of us throughout all time. He is on that Cross for one reason – because that’s how great His love is for us. Forget all of the hearts and chocolates and flowers that we usually associate as symbols of love – those two crossed pieces of wood are the most profound symbol of love that there is. Jesus died for us because He loves us.

Listen to those words: “He died for us.” He died for you, and for you and He died for me. Many of us have heard them so many times that they no longer carry with the shock of someone dying on account of what we have done. If you’ve seen the movie The Passion of the Christ, you have at least a sense of the immensity of that love. The challenge for each of us is to hear this message again today as though it were the first time, the story of a man who literally died for the sins of His brothers and sisters. He died for us!

This is a story of the profound love that God has for each of us; the profound hope that God places in each of us; and the profound confidence that God has in us that we truly can be His people, we can truly achieve the Kingdom, we can truly overcome our own sinfulness, our own weakness – with His grace and help. He died for us. How will you respond to what God has done for you?

Today’s celebration marks our entry way into Holy Week. We will spend this next week entering deeply into the story; deeply into the imagery and symbolism and ritual of our salvation – from the Last Supper, through that death and crucifixion, right through to newness of life in Resurrection. Today reminds us that our story is one that is full of triumph, the triumph of our King, but it is also one that is full of suffering. Our story is one of grace in the Eucharist, in our own Baptism, it is one that calls us into the service of our brothers and sisters.

He died for us! That is what it all comes down to. And so, what will you do? How will you respond to this time of grace?

I invite us all to take a few moments of silent meditation. Gaze upon our cross. See in it the sign of God’s profound love for you.

May God give you peace.


  1. Hi Tom,

    Good post. Any thoughts on my question about whether Jesus suffered illness or sickness before His passion?
    If not, I won't disturb you any further.



  2. Amen!!!

    Perhaps in those moments of silence when we contemplate Christ's sacrifice and suffering over the coming days we might hear Him tell us "I did it because I love you! Now.. go and do likewise!"