Daily Reflection: Sunday, April 5
Here is my homily for our Palm Sunday Mass:
Sister Thea Bowman was an African-American woman who was a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
She became a Catholic during her childhood, while living in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
She was a prophetic voice in the Catholic Church and in the world for a number of years before her death of bone cancer.
She died on March 30, 1990, at the age of 52.
Once when she was interviewed on Sixty Minutes by Mike Wallace, she said this, “I think the difference between me and some people is that I am content to do my little bit. Sometimes people think that they have to do big things in order to make change. But if each one would light a candle, we’d have a tremendous light.”
Shortly before her death, right before Holy Week in 1990, she wrote the following words to challenge and encourage the Church as we entered into Holy Week.
I have adapted some of her words for this time in our Church and in our Global Village.
Let us resolve to make this week holy by claiming Christ’s redemptive grace and by living holy lives.
The Word became flesh and redeemed us by his holy life and holy death. This week especially, let us accept redemption by living grateful, faithful, prayerful, generous, just and holy lives.
Since we are not able to gather to celebrate Mass together, let us resolve to make this week holy by reading and meditating on Holy Scripture.
So often, we get caught up in the hurry of daily living. Coronavirus has forced us to slow down. As individuals and as families, reserve prime time to be with Jesus, to hear the cries of the children waving palm branches, to see the Son of Man riding on an ass’ colt, to feel the press of the crowd, to be caught up in the ‘Hosannas’ and to realize how the cries of acclamation will yield to the garden of suffering, to be there and watch as Jesus is sentenced by Pilate to Calvary, to see him rejected, mocked, spat upon, beaten and forced to carry a heavy cross, to hear the echo of the hammer, to feel the agony of the torn flesh and strained muscles, to know Mary’s anguish as he hung three hours before he died.
We recoil before the atrocities of war, gang crime, domestic violence and catastrophic illness. Unless we personally and immediately are touched by suffering, it is easy to read Scripture and to walk away without contacting the redemptive suffering that makes us holy. The reality of the Word falls on deaf ears. But this year is different. We are all touched by illness. Surrender to this reality, and let it make us more sensitive and more compassionate.
Let us take time this week to be present to someone who may be isolated and suffers. Through a phone call, a text, an email, sharing the pain of a fellow human will enliven Scripture and help us enter into the holy mystery of the redemptive suffering of Christ.
Let us resolve to make this week holy by participating in the Holy Week Services of the Church, by attending all the Triduum Services that will be videotaped for you, and do so by preparing, by studying the readings, entering into the spirit, and joining in spiritual communion with your Faith Family.
Let us sing, ‘Lord, have mercy’ and ‘Hosanna.’ Let us praise the Lord with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength, let us unite ourselves with all the people in our Global Village
Let us break bread together through Spiritual Communion; let us relive the holy and redemptive mystery. Let us do it in memory of Jesus, acknowledging in faith his real presence upon our altars.
Let us resolve to make this week holy by sharing holy peace and joy within our families, sharing family prayer on a regular basis, making every meal a holy meal where loving conversations bond family members in unity, sharing family work without grumbling, making love not war, asking forgiveness for past hurts and forgiving one another from the heart, seeking to go all the way for love as Jesus went all the way for love.
Let us unite our sufferings, inconveniences and annoyances with the suffering of Jesus. Let us stretch ourselves, going beyond our comfort zones to unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work.
We unite ourselves with Christ’s redemptive work when we reconcile, when we make peace, when we share the good news that God is in our lives, when we reflect to our brothers and sisters God’s healing, God’s forgiveness, God’s unconditional love.
Let us be practical, reaching out across the boundaries of race and class and status to help somebody, to encourage and affirm somebody, offering to the young an incentive to learn and grow, offering to the downtrodden resources to help themselves.
May our fasting be the kind that saves and shares with the poor, that actually contacts the needy, that gives heart to heart, that touches and nourishes and heals.
During this Holy Week when Jesus gave his life for love, let us truly love one another.
…and in these days ahead, Church, may we bring that prayer into being.
Again, to one and all, every gift and grace of ‘The Week’… Each in our own way, in the midst of this pandemic let us make this week a Holy Week.
Let us unite our crosses to the cross of Jesus. In that union, we will not find death, but we will experience new life, new hope, and new beginnings.