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Palm Sunday Homily

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordMarch 24, 2024
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Today’s readings are Mk. 11: 1-10; Isaiah 50: 4-7; Psalm 22; Phil. 2: 6-11 and Mk. 14: 1 – 15:47

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  O, O, O, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

So goes the opening verse of the 19th century African American spiritual, Were you there?

In the jarring account of the Passion (Mk. 14: 1 – 15:47) we just read, the answer to the question “Where you there?” is a definite NO.  Abandoned by His disciples and friends, Jesus was all alone. 

Knowing this, Jesus is resigned to His fate.  Even when He is interrogated by the one man who can save Him, Pilate, Jesus has virtually no response.  And according to St. Mark, when Jesus is crucified, only a few women followers of His were there, but at a distance. Alone when He was betrayed, alone in His trial, alone on the cross, virtually alone when He died.  So alone.  Were you there?  No one was there.

Fast forward 2000 years.  Today we begin another Holy Week.  Will you be there this week?  Will you be there as we recall Jesus’ Last Supper on Thursday evening, the passion and tragedy of Good Friday, and then the glory of His resurrection at the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday? I pray that you will. But if you do attend, the question remains:  Will you be a mere spectator watching from afar?  Or will you immerse yourself fully into the midst of all the celebrations, with worship and prayer and reflection, with all your heart and soul?

If you do just that, then early next week, if those words of Were you there? come back to your mindyou’ll be able to smile and nod your head and say, “Oh yes. I was there”.