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Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion C: April 10, 2022

Luke 19:28-40 and Luke 22:14-23:56

Fr. John tran

Jesus rides into Jerusalem like a king. Everyone loves him; everyone thinks he is great, and indeed could be the messiah! But what a difference a few days makes. By Holy Thursday, those in power have Jesus just where they want him: accused of blasphemy, convicted by the Romans, and crucified. How readily the people are convinced that he is not the messiah at all, but a criminal worthy of death. This seems such an impossible thing to us because, of course, we would never do such a thing. How short-sighted they were. And, yet how seriously have we made part of our lives Jesus' basic command “to love one another as I have loved you,” or unless you have ministered to the least of my brothers and sister, you have not ministered to me. Our reaction reminds me of a novel that came out some years ago.

In this novel, a young archbishop in Italy is considering a daring plan. He is very much in tune with the poor and homeless, the outcasts and the marginal people. He has a reputation for being holy and a good pastor of his people. But he is troubled by how he sees these people being treated by ordinary Christians, and the church as well. The pope is very aware of the capabilities, talents and holiness of this man. He sees that he can have a significant role in the church. Catholics and non-Catholics alike admire the young archbishop.

So, the pope is not totally happy when the young archbishop comes with this request. The archbishop wants to get a first hand idea of how these homeless and unwanted people live. He wants to leave Italy for a year and go to the United States to live as a homeless person. He would live unknown in a large city, carry no money or Identification, and live among the homeless. No one would know that he is an archbishop and friend of the pope.

When he arrives in this city, he goes around and finds out where the homeless live. He goes to the pastor of a large urban Catholic church and asks for help for himself and for others like what he appears to be. The pastor spends little time with him and asks him to leave. He begs on the street and from house to house, business to business. He has some success and many failures. There are charitable and loving people, and more of those who take one look and how he smells, and want nothing to do with him. When he goes to Mass, the priest refuses him communion, though the deacon ministers to him. He makes friends with many homeless and gives them hope. He learns much about how we as a church treat those in most need. As the year went on, he began to slowly change how the homeless were treated in that community. Eventually, he returns to his diocese, but with a very different view of how the church needs to minister to all people.

In a sense, this is exactly what Jesus did for us. But if someone in our own times does exactly as Jesus did, it seems extreme and excessive. Jesus did not live up to the expectations of many in his time, and may not live up to the expectations of many in our own. During this Holy Week, maybe we should take a good look at who we think Jesus is, and live our lives in such a way that we bring the real Jesus to others. We do this by loving as Jesus loved, by not judging so we will not be judged, and by looking out for those who don't count in our society.

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