This is my homily for 28 March 2010, Palm Sunday. To view the readings, go to http://www.usccb.org/nab and click “March 28” in the calendar.
[__01.] Being elected is no guarantee of ongoing or future popularity.
A candidate could, one day, be chosen by the people and the next day, week, or month be out of favor.
We admire holders of elected high office who persevere and take the high road in all their decisions, saying, “I’d rather do what is good rather than what simply appears to be good.” They are not concerned with what is popular.
Sometimes, we see the opposite – in the candidate – or even in ourselves – that is, we don’t do the right thing, we do the wrong thing and then we worry not about the actually wrong thing but simply about the appearance of impropriety and sinfulness.
American Idol is a reality, not just reality TV.
But, election means more than popularity, doesn’t it? Election means service - and this is true not only in Sacramento - Trenton - Washington DC - but also in the New Testament, the elect are those chosen by God … and Jesus is the first of the elect, really our leading candidate.
And, Jesus, the Son of Man, comes not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)
[__02.] As the Son of God, he is expected to have a term of office beyond this earthly life.
But, the Lord has a tough campaign trail. We’d have to call it a freefall in approval ratings from the triumphant entry to Jerusalem to, then, the arrest and crucifixion. All of this happens in a few days, as we celebrate the events, the swing in popularity is from Sunday to Friday, that is, Palm Sunday to Good Friday.
[__03.] In the Passion of our Lord, we observe how Jesus endures every consequence a lack of popularity – loss of status, ridicule.
He is called names and the crowd switches its allegiance quickly to the unknown outside candidate, Barabbas, who has no qualifications but also does not have what the crowd regards as “baggage.” Focus group numbers for Barabbas are way better.
Jesus, on the other hand, has been accused of blasphemy, healing people on the Sabbath, disobeying the Mosaic law.
[__03(a).] Jesus might prefer to leave town. But, he does not … he endures the insults on our behalf, being nailed to the cross for our sins.
[__03(b).] We ourselves walk the way of the Cross when we feel insulted, misunderstood, ignored, rejected ..when we feel our parents – or children – or friends – are not paying attention to us. When we feel rejected, we are called to turn this pain into a petition for God’s help.
We pray because we recognize that our experiences of pain –- or illness –- or challenge –- or actual death -- can also be experiences where life changes so much that we also die, when a part of us dies. And, we pray that we will rise to new life.
[__04.] Jesus dies for all humanity, all men and women, even those who do not make him popular.
His blood is poured out even for those who doubt and reject him.
With this, Jesus encourages us to be patient and virtuous as we endure our own declines in popularity or setbacks or rejections or name calling because we know that when we feel death, we can also live in him.
And, with his Passion, we believe that he gives us an example of how to love and care for each other, in what we say and do, popular or no. [_end_]