Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
To some extent, today’s liturgy seems confusing.  To start with, do we call it Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday?  We start outside, holding palm branches and listening to the story of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem as crowds shout “Hosanna to the Son of David” which really means “save us, our king!”  Together we process into church, waving those palms and singing.  You can’t get more joyful than that.  Then in 15 minutes it changes from Palm Sunday to Passion Sunday, we shift from all the activity to quietly listening to the Passion.  We listen to a story we have heard many times but it is just that, a story.  And it will stay just a story unless we see that we are part of the narrative.  The question is what characters are we, in what way is our life reflected in the story of Christ’s trial and death? 

Three times Peter denied that he was one of Christ’s followers.  When is it easier to say nothing than to acknowledge we are Catholic?  When are we embarrassed to be seen as Catholic?  Saying grace before meals in public?  Leaving ashes on our forehead rather than washing them off as soon as we get home?  Sometimes we are Peter, embarrassed to admit who we follow.

They met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.”  We all have a mission, a role in life only we can fulfill.  It could be a simple role, being a neighbor, a friend to someone that is hurting, in need.  It could be using our talents, our God given skills in a role or task we really wish someone else would do.  Someone else needs to step up and take positions of leadership, someone else needs to just be the unsung worker.  Sometimes we are Simon of Cyrene, wishing someone else would take our role.

Pilate said, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood.  Look to it yourselves.’”  Let someone else do it.  Sometimes we would just rather not get involved.  Social justice issues are so controversial; immigration reform, the death penalty, healthcare.  We could sign petitions, send postcards to legislators, take a position but will it really make any difference?  Let someone else do it.  Sometimes we are Pilate, washing our hands of our responsibility.

Not much has changed in 2,000 years.  The choices that those around Jesus made during his trial are the same choices we are still making today.  And sometimes we do not do any better than they did because still, far too often in our thoughts or in our words, in what we have done or in what we have failed to do, we end up saying, “Away with him!  Crucify him!