Message: Jesus' suffering is a living reality, but not the last word. The blessed palm represents our goal.
Welcome to Holy Week! We just listened to St. Luke's account of Jesus' suffering, death and burial. These events not only happened 2000 years ago - they continue today. Earlier this month gunmen entered a home care center in Yemen. They handcuffed security guards, nurses and volunteers. Then one by one they murdered 16 people including four religious sisters - members of Blessed Mother Teresa's order.
Because we have children present I will not describe the brutal details of their deaths. On Holy Thursday and Good Friday I will say more and read from an eyewitness account. The brutality of the killers should shock us - and move us to action.
Their bishop Paul Hinder said the nuns "died as martyrs because they witnessed Christ and shared the lot of Jesus on the cross." Their deaths show dramatically that Jesus' suffering and death continue in the lives of Christians today.*
We can see Jesus' suffering even closer to home. In our parish some families are going through terrible anguish. Many parishioners are carrying difficult burdens. I ask you to pray for and with them - and for yourself. Whatever trial you have, join it to Jesus' Passion.
You might consider saying the Prayer for Generosity.** We know the Sisters said that prayer together shortly before they died. The prayer says, "Teach me to be generous...to give and not count the cost." You can find the Prayer for Generosity in the bulletin. Consider saying it during Holy Week - and beyond.
I give the last word to Bishop Minder, "As Christians we believe that Golgotha is not the end, but the Risen Lord will have the final word at the Last Judgment." Yes, Jesus' suffering is a living reality, but not the last word. Take home a blessed palm. It represents victory. That's our goal. "The Risen Lord will have the final word." Amen.
*St. Leo the Great says that "the Passion is prolonged until the end of time."15 He is echoed by the philosopher Pascal in the famous meditation on the agony of Jesus: "Christ will be in agony until the end of the world. During this time..." See Lenten sermon delivered on March 17, 2006, by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa
**Here's the whole prayer:
Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will.
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