2. Phil 2:6-11
Gospel: Mt26:14-27:66/ Mt 27:11-54

                   " Palm Sunday of the Lord's passion."

Dear brothers and sisters today we are celebrating Palm Sunday of the Lord's passion. This day marks the beginning of the most special week of the year: Holy week and Easter. Hence, Holy week means that it is in these most significant days that salvation was achieved.

Today, Christ offers us so many beautiful gifts and our Church encourages us to choose these special gifts for this year's Holy week. The question is that what gift shall we choose? and what is this Holy week's gift that Jesus wants to give to us? What are these gifts?  They are the following:

First and foremost, is the gift of being loved. All of us know that Jesus not only likes each one of us but He also loves us so much that He suffers death on the cross. He says during the last supper to his apostles: " There is no greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends,"( John15:13). It is because real love forgets self. Real love knows no danger. Real love doesn't count the cost. The Bible says, " Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." But many times we may have forgotten this love of the Lord during the year. We take it for granted. How many of us woke up this morning? It is my hope that all of us woke up and this is a sign that we are loved by God. This is the miracle. It is because according to a research that there are more than 250, 000 People who died every day. They were alive yesterday, but today they are not with us. This does not necessarily mean that God does not love those who have died but He has given us a mission to do that is why He allows us  to be alive today.

Second is the gift of Obedience. Somebody once said that there are three types of  Christians who respond to the call of obedience. He compared the Christians with these three kinds of boats like: 1) the rowboat Christians, or those Christians that need to be pushed wherever they go. They obey because they have to, out of obligation. 2) The sail boat Christians or those who always go with the wind. They obey because it pleases them and get favors in return. 3) The steam boat Christians or those who make up their minds where they ought to go regardless of wind or weather. They obey willingly and gladly in season and out of season. For them it is an outward expression of their love and gratitude to God. This last type of obedience is done even to the point of dying with Jesus on the cross. Once a time Thomas Kemps said: " Instant obedience is the only kind  of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience. Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience, withdraws from Grace."

Third is the gift of Companionship. Perhaps we are alone because are widowed; our children have their families and seldom they visit us; we don't have close friends and no one  to talk to;  our telephone seldom rings; only few of our friends  send text in our cellular phone; have poor health; no visitors; and others.  And like Jesus on the cross we complain: " My God, my God why have you forsaken me?"( Mk 15:34). But Jesus promises the thief on the dying  on the neighboring cross: " This day you will be with me in paradise." And before he ascended into heaven in his last appearance to the apostles Jesus promised the apostles and us:  " And know that I am with you always until the end of the world!"( Mt 28:20)

Fourth is the Gift of a Forgiving Heart: Perhaps many of us carry a heavy heart baggage because of grudge against someone  who had sinned against us and we cannot forgive the person. During this Holy week let us be reminded of the sufferings of Jesus. He suffers because he wants to forgive us of our sins and how He wants us to share this forgiveness with our brothers and sisters. And to pray  with him: " Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing," ( Lk 23:34). Jesus gifts us with the forgiving heart.

Then what is our response to these gifts Jesus has given us? First, we will try to attend all the Holy week and Easter liturgies. It is because remembering these events can lead us to reflect more about our lives as Christians. Secondly, we try to make these days of Holy Week a period of deep reflection. After supper either alone or with our family, we slowly read some verses from the Bible and slowly to reflect the message  of Christ during this Holy Week. And we think a lot about the things that have happened and continue to happen  during this most Holiest of Weeks. During these seven days we speak frequently the name of the gift that our savior want us to have.

Let me end my sharing in this Palm Sunday with the following example: The donkey that carried Jesus to Jerusalem awakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had felt such rush of pleasure and pride. He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. " I shall show myself to them," he thought. But they didn't notice him. They rather went on drawing their water and paid him no mind. " Throw your garments down." he said crossly. " Don't you know who I am?" They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move. Miserable heathens!" he muttered to himself. " I'll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me."

However, the same thing happened. No one paid attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place. " The palm branches! Where are the palm branches!" He shouted. " Yesterday you threw palm branches!" Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother. " Foolish child," she gently said. " Don't you realize that without Him, you are just an ordinary donkey?"

Brothers and sisters just like the donkey that carried Jesus in Jerusalem, we are most fulfilled when we are in the service of Jesus Christ and obedient to Him. Without Him, all our best efforts are like, " filthy rags" ( Isaiah64:6) and amount to nothing. When we lift up Christ, however, we are no longer ordinary people, but key players in God's plan to redeem the word.

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Chapisha Maoni