A group of nearly 30 met on Zoom today to begin Holy Week–the holiest week of the year! Included here you will find my homily. Enjoy–be challenged and be blessed!–Pastor Kathy
P.S. Please be in contact if I can help you in any way or you would just like to chat. aaorcc2008@gmail or 507-429-3616.
My friends, it was my thought as I prepared for this homily, to make it brief and to the point in light of the fact that our Palm Sunday Mass is full of extra things –so we will see how I do!
As I suggested in the bulletin earlier in the week, Palm Sunday sets us up to begin the “holiest” week of our Church Year—not at all, “the happiest” week. Being “holy,” in my mind, is all about doing those things, in my one precious life, that are not specifically about my needs, but more broadly, about the needs of all of us. And for those who regularly read my homilies, you know that I always uplift the need that we must include ourselves in the good we do for others, otherwise, “our cups run dry!” So, in other words, look for that balance in your lives—good for self and good for others—you and all others are worthy of good in your lives!
Back then, to the “holiest” of weeks and why that is so. Jesus, of course, is our focus and if we would know how it is that we can be “holy” too, we have only to keep our eyes on him. From the get-go of this holiest of weeks; we see Jesus as a man of the Scriptures. That first, short reading from Mark with which we began today, tells of his joyful entry into Jerusalem. And how did he come into the city—on a horse with royal trappings—as a king in all his glory? No, he came on the back of a donkey as the Scriptures said the Messiah would come. Just as in his birth—he came simply, unadorned—for the poor. This is a piece that we simply can’t, nor should we miss.
Isaiah, in the 1st reading today, tells of what the life of the Messiah will be like. Insults will be part of the life of this Messiah and those who follow such a person. This is so because messiahs, prophets and the like will be compelled to speak truth to power, as it were, demanding for the least among us, justice in their lives. Those who are into their power, wealth, or prestige, will not take such demands lightly—there will always be the need to silence such ones—to denigrate them. But the prophet, Isaiah, is encouraging, saying that such people should know that even though denigration may come; they should not fear because, just as with Jesus, our God will be with us.
And even so, we hear the purely human cry that Jesus will utter, later in the week, with the psalmist today: “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” This cry of the psalmist today is one that has been repeated and echoed throughout the history of the world from Jesus and onward as he struggled and as his followers have struggled, in his footsteps, to save our people from injustice of every kind.
Jesus would ultimately pay the supreme price for such goodness, but because of who he was, he could do nothing else—turning away, remaining silent, protecting himself as many of our bishops seem to have chosen to do, was just not an option. This is the true story of Calvary. Calvary was his world’s price for asking/demanding even, that the powers-that-be, be their best for all.
Palm Sunday, today, gives us a taste of what the entire week will be like, as Paul, in his beautiful letter to the Philippians continues: “Your attitude must be the same as that of Jesus…he took on the image of oppressed humankind…and for this reason, at Jesus’ name, every knee should bend—in the heavens, on earth and under the earth.”
My friends, I began today speaking of Holy Week as the holiest of weeks. Holiness is not about, as I said, silence in the presence of evil, or fear to stand up and say what is right—is truth in any situation, even if we stand alone.
A family member recently said to me, “I need to write to the bishop and tell him that we need to hear from him on issues like climate change and gun violence.” I encouraged her to do it! You would think that would be, “Bishop, 101!”
This week’s National Catholic Reporter (NCR) challenged the nation’s bishops as well, asking, where is their collective voice on climate change in particular, suggesting that if we don’t have an earth that is viable to live on, is that not too, a life issue!
When we think of what actions are indeed, “holy,” I would lift up a statement made by our president at his first news conference this past week. When speaking to reporters about the youth coming to our borders unaccompanied by parents and his decision to allow them into the country, he stated that unlike his predecessor, he would not turn them away alone—to go back to the violence they had left, “he just wouldn’t do it!”
And of course, he has received criticism for this action, but he has made it clear that his actions are based on what is good and right; not on what is easy.
Each of us, my friends, have like decisions to make in the course of our lives—hard decisions like the racism that lies at the roots of our democracy—an experiment that is touted in our Constitution, claiming that every person has the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Additionally, we, as a country of many, diverse people, trying to live out this democratic dream, must—simply must come to terms with gun violence in our United States. We all know what needs to be done and now is the time to do it!
In our city of Winona, a Steering Committee that is an off shoot of the Winona Interfaith Council, going now under the name of Great River Asylum Support Partners (GRASP) is actively preparing to accept a family from Honduras and perhaps more in the future coming to our southern border seeking protection from life-threatening violence in their own countries. It will be our intention to help these families and individuals work toward full citizenship should they be granted asylum. At this writing, our group just heard that we have been accepted to receive our first family in a matter of weeks! I believe that all of us involved in this effort have a mixture of anticipation for being able to help in the ways that we can, but also the realization that this will not always be, easy.
I believe what motivates our group is the knowledge that this is the right thing to do, plus the realization that the life-giving aspects will go both ways—us to them, but also all that they will give to us being from another country and culture, language, and lifestyle. I will keep you all informed about the ways going forward that you will have opportunities to assist this endeavor.
So, as we begin this holiest of weeks, let our prayer be that we, each one, might walk into it and through to the Resurrection, following in our brother Jesus’ footsteps, unafraid, trusting as he did, that our Abba God will be with us. Amen? Amen!