Palm Sunday Palm Leaves Closeup

Bishop Burbidge's 2017 Palm Sunday Homily

Cathedral of Saint Thomas More - April 9, 2017


Brothers and sisters in Christ, our hearts are filled with deep grief this morning, having learned of the attacks on our brothers and sisters in Christ in Egypt, in which many were killed and others are suffering greatly.  I have asked all in our diocese and people of all goodwill to join together in prayer, praying for those who died, for those who are suffering, for their families, praying for the end of the persecution of Christians throughout this world, and of all such violent attacks.  

This occurs on the most sacred of days, and yet we do not despair, because it is the day that Jesus took up His own cross, took on the darkness, the evil of the world, and through His cross and resurrection, proved victorious.  It is to the Lord that we turn, most especially in this hour of need.

What can we do to make this week holy? Perhaps we can see ourselves in some of the central figures found in the Passion just proclaimed, and understand more clearly what the Lord is asking of us. 

We are like Peter, James and John, who fell asleep and failed to keep watch with the Lord.  For this week to be holy, we must “stay awake” with Jesus, especially in allowing time for silence and prayer and, if possible, in attending the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday and the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday. 

Like Judas, we have betrayed the Lord and have been unfaithful to the promises we have made. For this week to be holy, we must hand over to the Lord all of our sins and seek His divine mercy. 

We are like Simon of Cyrene, who was told to help Jesus carry His cross.  For this week to be holy, we must take the initiative and do our part to reach out to someone we know burdened with the crosses in life.

We are like Joseph of Arimathea, who asked for the body of Jesus to be buried. For this week to be holy, we must die with Jesus; we must die to our sins and old way of living, only to know that as we anticipate Easter, the tomb will be empty and we will rise to newness of life in Christ our Lord.

If you see yourself in any of the central figures proclaimed in the Passion, it is because it is true—during these sacred days, Jesus is drawing us to Himself, asking us to accompany Him on this path to Jerusalem, so that we are fully aware of His great love for us. So in faith, walk with the Lord and unite your sufferings to His so that this week may truly be “holy.”