Sunday, March 29, 2015

Holy Week ‘Priorities’

(Palm Sunday 2015 (B): This homily was given on March 29, 2015 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Philippians 2: 6-11.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Palm Sunday 2015]

In my brief Palm Sunday homily this year I’d like to take you back almost 40 days to Ash Wednesday, and remind you of the “word” I shared with you that day at Mass.  As many of you know, every year since 2010 I’ve asked the Lord to give me a “theme word” for Lent to share with you on Ash Wednesday—a word that could help to focus and guide you—and me—(all of us) in our Lenten disciplines.

Now since everybody here has a perfect memory and always remembers everything that I say from the pulpit, I’m sure I could point to any one of you right now and you would be able to tell me immediately what this year’s word was—but I won’t do that.

So you can breathe a sigh of relief!

The word, of course, was “priorities”—which was a great theme word for Lent, I think, because the purpose of this holy season (at least in part) is to motivate us to re-prioritize our lives through prayer and fasting and works of charity.

As I said back on Ash Wednesday: “The three traditional disciplines of Lent—prayer, fasting and almsgiving—are supposed to help us change or at least modify our priorities, so that we’re more concerned with the things that really matter, namely, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and loving our neighbor as we love ourself.”

But that word, “priorities” has a special relevance for this upcoming week—Holy Week—the most important 7 days of the Church’s Liturgical Year.  Remember, my brothers and sisters, without the events of the very first Holy Week 2,000 years ago—the events we just heard about in Mark’s Passion account, as well as the events of Easter Sunday—we would have no hope of eternal salvation.  None!  As St. Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 15: “If Christ was not raised, your faith is worthless.  You are still in your sins, and those who have fallen asleep in Christ are the deadest of the dead.”

So today we should thank God from the very bottom of our hearts that he made all of us HIS PRIORITY on those 7 days back in the first century.

Because that’s exactly what he did.

In this regard, the word “priority” did not appear in today’s second reading from Philippians 2.  But it could have—because it was implicitly there in the text.  St. Paul’s message in that reading was that the Son of God chose to make each and every one of us such a priority for himself that he was willing to become obedient even unto death—death on a cross.

To sum it all up: We were redeemed by the blood of Christ, who made us his priority during the first Holy Week.

Which leads to the obvious question: Will we make HIM our priority during this Holy Week?

Or will we allow other things—other unnecessary things—to get in the way?

Each of us, believe it or not, will answer those questions by what we choose to do or not do in our free and leisure time during the next 7 days.

For those who do choose to make Jesus and their relationship with him their first priority from now until Easter Sunday, let me now go over the Holy Week schedule here at St. Pius:

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we will have morning Mass, as usual, at 7am.  We will have Eucharistic Adoration all day on Tuesday.  We will have Stations of the Cross at 6:05 on Tuesday after Benediction.  We will have Morning Prayer Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the regular Mass times.  And, most important, we will have the Liturgies of the Triduum on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings: the Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be at 7pm on Thursday, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the church hall until 11pm.  On Friday we will have the celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 7pm, and Stations of the Cross twice: once outside at noon (weather permitting), and then at 3pm here in church.  And finally, we will have the first Mass of Easter—the Easter Vigil Liturgy—at 7:30pm on Holy Saturday night.  Masses on Easter Sunday will be at the normal Sunday times: 7, 8:30 and 10:30am.

It’s my prayer at this Mass that our participation in at least some of these ceremonies and services will be a sign—a special and a visible sign—that we desire to make Jesus Christ and our relationship with him our number 1 priority—and not just during Holy Week, but every single day of the year.