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Homily for Palm Sunday
Statement Released: Sunday, April 09, 2006
Today my dear people we celebrate the feast of Palm Sunday. Do we celebrate Jesus entering Jerusalem in a chariot at the head of a huge army to declare that he was establishing the kingdom of God? Of course not. Rather we celebrate his entry into Jerusalem on a donkey to challenge old ideas of the nature of God and the nature of God’s love by cleansing the temple, realizing that in doing so he was ensuring his own death. There is a complete absence of worldly power on the first Palm Sunday – no chariot, no army, no weapons, but purely and simply the power of God. We who know the story know that Jesus died, but we also realize that in dying he also triumphed, and that we enjoy the benefit of that triumph, a triumph in which evil and death were conquered forever.
What does Palm Sunday say to each one of us? It challenges us to leave behind the peace and comfort of our metaphorical Galilee and enter into our own metaphorical Jerusalem, to cleanse our own temple, and if possible the temple of our society. Do we have the courage to do that? It depends upon ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist are waiting there for us always but too often we neglect them. Is the power to change available to us? Of course it is if we are humble enough and if we have faith enough to ask for the assistance of God’s power through the Holy Spirit.
Last year we commenced a prayer program asking the Holy Spirit to come down upon ourselves and upon our Archdiocese. I don’t know if that prayer changed the prayer life of people generally in the Archdiocese, but it certainly changed my own prayer life because having invited the Archdiocese to pray with me I need to make sure the Prayer of the Church and the Rosary is there each and every day of my life. The Rosary does not always happen at 9pm as I planned it would, but nevertheless it happens even if at 12.30am or 1am in the morning. As well as prayer in the life of the Archdiocese other thing have also happened:
1. A biblical institute was established at Petrie Parish to promote Scripture in the Archdiocese.
2. Against all the odds Bishop Thomas Wright one of the five top theologians in the world, of Durham England came to the Archdiocese with his brilliant vision of Jesus and the victory of God.
3. We sought a lay promoter of vocations to seek vocations to priesthood and religious life and found Mark Lysaght a marvellous young New Zealander who will do great things in this area.
4. We made the decision to seek the services of Nigerian priests to help us out in the Archdiocese and provide leadership and the Sacramental life for the parishes, and it looks as if that will happen.
5. At the same time we sought to promote programs for lay leadership within the Archdiocese to help us in the meantime, and certainly that has been put in place.
6. The Diaconate program established five years ago is beginning to bear fruit with ever more frequent Ordinations.
7. And finally the interest of lay people in seeking both theological education and spiritual formation has never been higher, as many people flock to the Lenten Programs on Mission.
These are just a few of the new initiatives my dear people that I believe are literally an answer to prayer. I believe also that the World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008 which was confirmed in 2005 will have a major impact on young people in Australia.
And so my dear people on this Palm Sunday in 2006 let us leave our comfort zone and journey to our own metaphorical Jerusalem at the same time asking God to help us cleanse the Temple of our lives and that of society as the church truly becomes the sign of the kingdom that Jesus wants it to be. On this Sunday the Pope in Rome is handing over the Pilgrim Cross to a large group of Australian young people including four from this Archdiocese. Among other things he will say to them: “There is an urgent need for the emergence of a new generation of apostles anchored firmly in the Word of Christ, capable of responding to the challenges of our time and prepared to spread the Gospel far and wide. It is this that the Lord asks of you, it is to this that the Church invites you, and it is this that the world – even thought it may not be aware of it – expects of you.”
Let us make this Lent 2006 a fresh start for ourselves as apostles in the mission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane.
Released by the Catholic Communications Office