15 April 2019

Make room for the Cross

Monday of Holy Week
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St D.'s, NOLA

This is a week of “self-emptying” for Christ. Yesterday, he entered Jerusalem to shouts of “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” By Saturday, he will have been betrayed by a friend; arrested, denied, tortured, and nailed to a cross. He will be dead and buried. Yesterday, we heard Paul tell us, that “though he was in the form of God, [Christ] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself (ἐκένωσεν). . .” He emptied himself of what? Not his divinity. Not his humanity. We need both for our salvation! Christ emptied himself of all attachments, all sentiments, all worldly weights and anchors. As Mary pours the expensive funereal oil on his feet and as Judas the Betrayer objects to the terrible waste, Jesus begins to die. He lets go of friends, family, disciples, anyone and anything that might allow “this cup to pass” from him. Jesus doesn't cease loving his family and friends in order to let them go. He begins to love them sacrificially. He pours them out so that the Father's will might more perfectly take their place. This is the challenge of Holy Week: detach, pour out, empty yourself so that there is nothing left in you but your desire to be crucified with Christ on Good Friday.

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14 April 2019

Remember: you asked for his crucifixion

Palm Sunday 2019
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

Imagine walking into the French Quarter as thousands of people cheer your name, throw flowers at you, and as you wave, they cry out, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” IOW, imagine you are Drew Brees and that the Saints won the Superbowl last year. The city, the state, the whole world is yours! Now, imagine just a week later those same people, those same adoring crowds, are cursing you, screaming for your blood, spitting on you, and cheerfully handing you over to the Feds for execution. This isn't a lesson in the vagaries of celebrity, or how we create our heroes in order to destroy them. This isn't any kind of lesson at all. It's history. It's what happened. Jesus entered Jerusalem – exactly as he had told his disciples many times he would – and the people of Jerusalem hailed him as their savior and king. Perhaps the disciples remember at this point that Jesus also told them that he would be betrayed, handed over to his enemies, and executed. That also happened. It's history too. And now we've begun in earnest our inexorable march toward Holy Week and Easter. Come Good Friday, remember Palm Sunday. When we cheer for his crucifixion, remember that we once cheered his kingship. 
This week, I challenge you to consider this: our Lord's resolve to die for us on the Cross didn't change b/c we greeted him with joy on Sunday, nor b/c we cheered for his death on Friday. He knew he mission. He knew his goal. And our wish-washy wants made no difference to him. He went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast. And his earlier prophecies played out exactly like he said they would. Judas betrays him. Peter denies him. Pilate scourges him. And the centurions nail him to the cross. As he prophesied – he dies, willingly, so that we might live and live eternally. Whether we boo or cheer, whether we believe or do not, whether we ask for it or not, Christ Jesus went to Jerusalem and died on a garbage heap for the salvation of the world. Receive this gift with praise and thanksgiving so that when he comes again you will be known and loved as child of the Most High.

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