Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Today’s liturgy combines moments and feelings of both victory and tragedy. We recall Jesus’ triumphant final entry into Jerusalem when he was received as a king and this is done through the blessing of the palm or olive branches, a procession and the joyous singing of Hosanna in the highest! Though we enjoy recalling the Lord’s moment of triumph, we should not forget that he had to endure an extreme humiliation, sufferings and death for us and our salvation. Jesus is truly our king for he remains forever the Prince of Peace, who paid the price of our redemption by his sacrifice and thereby reconciled us with the Father. As faithful followers of Christ, we do not flee before the Lord who willingly accepted his passion even when our triumphs turn into tragedies, for it is then that we are more closely united to him and we experience our own liberation or “Exodus” from various forms of bondage to sin. By believing in Christ and remaining faithful to him, even in sufferings, every tragedy is transformed into victory which provides us with freedom, happiness and peace.
At the time of his death, Jesus cried out in a loud voice and gave up his spirit. Jesus not only breathed his last breath and died, but it was through his passion and death that he released a new force in the world, which his followers were soon to receive, because they were to be filled with the Spirit of God. Christ did not avoid his cross, but he bravely carried it to the end. He thereby taught us the most important spiritual message of life, that it is only through self-denial and acceptance of one’s own crosses in life that one attains true freedom and victory that lead unto new life.
Indeed, over the centuries and even today, Jesus’ disciples pass through similar experiences of triumph and tragedy. There will be humiliations, denials and sacrifices to be made in life. All the faithful are called to be witnesses and some will be true martyrs as well. A Way of the Cross has been prepared for each one of us through which we must pass in order to reach heaven. Nevertheless, the true disciples of the Lord will become like Christ their King and be filled with steadfast courage and joy, because even though Jesus’ death seemed a big failure, it was a victory of love that is faithful to the end, even unto death. Therefore, all our sufferings, sacrifices and even death itself have purpose if we are united to Christ the Lord, who after his death on the cross rose from the dead on the third day and now lives and reigns in heaven and in the hearts of his devoted and faithful disciples.