Homily given by Bishop Anthony Randazzo
Bishop of Broken Bay
Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord - 5 April 2020
Today a new week begins. Over these coming days, we will enter more deeply into the Passion of Jesus, our Lord. Ideally, as disciples of Christ, this week will be a time of compassion – suffering with Christ. For it is only in suffering with him that we will rise with him.
There is no doubt that people are suffering in these times. Some will deeply feel the onus of isolation and separation from family and friends. For others, there is the anxiety of becoming ill or causing our loved ones to become ill. The security of keeping the family together because of the threat to livelihoods through loss of work is real for many. Then there is the pain of being locked out of our places of worship and unable to receive Jesus in the Eucharist in this, the holiest week of our Christian lives.
In our current circumstances, these responsibilities and others beget genuine suffering for many people. However, for non-believers, the sufferings of this world are consumed by the darkness of the grave. For the Christian disciple, our sufferings, united with those of Our Lord on the cross, carry with them a glimpse of the empty tomb and the promise of eternal life.
In the Christian context, discipleship means leaving our old life behind to follow Christ (cf. 2Cor 5:17). It is selling everything to buy the hidden treasure in the field (cf. Matt 13:44). Discipleship is putting a hand to the plow and not looking back (cf. Luke 9:62). It is to be able to make our own the words of Saint Paul who says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Discipleship – following Jesus – is to live in the presence of God, hear and now. It is to believe that God’s grace brings us to the fullness of love, joy, and peace.
The Prophet Isaiah reminds us that as disciples we must give voice to the wearied, and that can only occur if we first have listened to their needs with the compassion of Christ.
To reach out to those who suffer or who are on the margins; to comfort those who are lonely or lost will at times draw criticism and insult. For the disciple of the Lord, it will at times feel as though you are being struck, torn, and sullied by antagonists, who not only reject you, but who reject Jesus as the Divine Saviour.
My sisters and brothers fear not! Again, the prophecy of Isaiah has a comforting effect when he announces, “The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched” (Is 50:7).
Strength is given to the disciple who suffers with Jesus the Lord. There is no shame in suffering with Christ; there is only the promise of abundant life. That life begins here and comes to fulfilment in heaven.
My brothers and sisters, the disruption of our time will not defeat us. The passion of Jesus Christ, who suffered and died on the cross, is our hope in this time of uncertainty. As Christ emptied himself to take on our life, may we be filled with His divine life, so that we might be raised with him in glory on the last day (cf. Phil 2:6-11).
May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints and also whatever good you do or evil you endure, be cause for the remission of your sins, the increase of grace and the reward of life everlasting. Amen