Sunday, March 25, 2018

Is Jesus Worth It?

(Palm Sunday 2018 (B): This homily was given on March 25, 2018 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Isaiah 50: 4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2: 6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Palm Sunday 2018]

Of the four gospel accounts of the Passion, St. Mark’s (the one we just heard) is the shortest—which, of course, means that my homily can be much longer today.

Just kidding.

Today I’ll focus on just one, simple question.  It’s a question that every Christian faces during Holy Week each year: Is Jesus Christ worth it?  To me, is Jesus Christ worth it?

We definitely know how the woman who anointed Jesus at the house of Simon the leper 2000 years ago would have answered that question.  It’s clear from the gospel reading we just heard.  As we were told a few moments ago, this woman came into Simon’s house with an alabaster jar filled with perfumed oil.  She then broke the jar (which itself cost more than “a few bucks”) and poured the oil on Jesus’ head.  To which some of those who were present responded, “Why this waste?”

“Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?  It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages!”

“Three hundred days’ wages”—do you realize how much that is?  Three hundred days is the better part of a year.  To put this in modern terms, it would be like somebody who makes $60,000 a year today spending $50,000 of it on one bottle of perfume—and then using ALL of that perfume on one person.

Be clear about it, my brothers and sisters, this perfumed oil was a lot more expensive than “Chanel No. 5”!

Obviously this woman thought that Jesus was worth a lot—that Jesus was worth everything—that Jesus was worth everything she had to give!  Probably that’s because Jesus had already done something special for her.  Perhaps at some point during his 3-year ministry Jesus had healed her of an illness, or forgiven her sins, or delivered her from the power of Satan, or taught her the truths that were now guiding her life.

Or all of the above!

We don’t know for sure, but it must have been something along those lines.

Which brings us to consider ourselves as we begin this Holy Week.

Recall the question I posed a few moments ago: Is Jesus Christ worth it?  It’s the question every Christian faces on Palm Sunday: To me, personally, is Jesus Christ worth it?

Is he worth the extra time I will need to take, and the extra effort I will need to make, to enter into the spirit of this most important week of the Church’s liturgical year?  Is Jesus worth putting aside my worldly concerns—especially on Holy Thursday and Good Friday—to participate in the sacred liturgies that are designed to deepen my relationship with him?  Is he worth my making time for extra personal prayer and Scripture reading during the next seven days?

Hopefully, we will answer like that woman did—with a resounding yes!

“Yes, Jesus, you are worth it!  In fact, you’re more than worth it!  You loved me into existence, you suffered for me, you died for me, you saved me, you gave me the hope of living forever with you in eternal bliss.  You are worth my love, my time, my talent, my treasure, my attention—and everything else I have to give.”

For those of you who would answer in that fashion, here’s the schedule of Holy Week events 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. 

Confessions will be heard during our Wednesday Holy Hour, from 5-6pm.  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.  (Please note: There will be no 5pm Mass next Saturday.)  Masses on Easter Sunday will be at the normal Sunday times: 7, 8:30 and 10:30am.

I hope and pray that you’ll make the effort to be at some of these events (at least) during the next seven days.  Jesus, after all, is definitely worth it.