Strengthen Your Brothers

(Homily for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord - Year C)

Bottom line: Like Simon Peter, Jesus has commissioned Pope Francis: Strengthen your brothers.

Welcome to Holy Week! With the election of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, I want to invite you to experience Holy Week in the person of St. Peter. On Holy Thursday - when we celebrate the Last Supper - Peter asks Jesus, "Are you going to wash my feet?" On Good Friday we see Peter drawing a sword to defend Jesus - then denying that he even knows him. But on Easter Sunday morning, Simon Peter is the first Apostle to enter the empty tomb.

Today we hear Jesus say, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift you all like wheat, but I prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers."

These words - "Strengthen your brothers" - apply to the successor of Peter, the pope. By all accounts, God has blessed us with a humble, wise and strong man as Holy Father. But, you know, Pope Francis' strength does not come from himself, but from the promise of Jesus: "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail." The papacy has survived two thousand years because of the prayer of Jesus. Starting with Peter, the popes have weaknesses and sins (like you and me) but Jesus has preserved them from error so they can strengthen their brother bishops - and us.

We join Jesus in praying for Pope Francis.* As successor of Peter, he has a vital role keeping us on the right path. Like Simon Peter, Jesus has commissioned Pope Francis: Strengthen your brothers. Amen.


*In his first greeting to the people of Rome and the world he said: "And now I would like to give the blessing, but first first I ask a favour of you: before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer: your prayer over me."

Spanish Version

Spanish Version

From Archives (Palm Sunday Homilies):

2016, Year B: First Things: Jesus Suffering Today
2015, Year B: New Mind and Heart Week 6
2014, Year A: Prayer and Spiritual Combat Week 6
2013, Year C: Strengthen Your Brothers
2012, Year B: A Loud Cry
2011, Year A: The Blood of Martyrs and of Jesus
2010, Year C: The Good Thief
2009, Year B: God's Justice
2008, Year A: Your Will Be Done
2007, Year C: What Do We Have To Offer God?
2006, Year B: Body and Blood
2005, Year A: A Week to Remember
2004, Year C: The Passion of the Christ
2003, Year B: He Breathed His Last
2002, Year A: Human Guilt & Divine Mercy
2001, Year C: An Honest Thief
2000, Year B: Why This Waste?
1999, Year A: His Blood Be Upon Us
1998, Year C: The First Letter of God's Alphabet

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