Palm Sunday Preaching by Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP April 5, 2020 Isaiah 50:4-7 Philippians 2:6-11 Matthew 26: 14-27:66 Today marks the beginning of Holy Week, a time of remembering the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus though sacred rituals, readings from Scripture and shared prayer. This year we will journey through Holy Week in a much different way because of the “social distancing“ that is necessary to turn the tide of the spread of the coronavirus in our world. Instead of gathering together as a faith community in a church or chapel on these sacred days, we will spend Holy Week on our designated floors, in our rooms or in our homes. In these places, many of us will able to connect with each other through technology for these liturgical celebrations and prayer. However, we come together, we are and remain a community of faith joined by our shared belief in the Risen Christ. With the start each year of Holy Week, we turn intently toward Jesus. We are not just remembering an historical event that happened over two thousand years ago. We are celebrating and taking part in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as it happens today to us and for us. The blessing of this week is that it calls us to look carefully at Jesus. We watch, not just to admire, but also to learn, to penetrate the mind, the thinking, the attitudes and the values of Jesus so that we, in the very different circumstances of our own lives, may walk in his footsteps. In a way the real key to Holy Week is given in today’s Second Reading, which seems to be a hymn, incorporated by Paul in his letter to the Christians at Philippi. It expresses the “mind,” the thinking of Jesus, a “mind” which Paul urges us to have also if we want to identify fully with Jesus as disciples. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Elisabeth Johnson in her commentary on this passage writes, “Paul envisions the life of the community being formed by the mind of Christ – by a spirit of humility and loving service to one another rather than competition and grasping for power and control.” On this Sunday marking Jesus' passion, we are called to reflect on what it means to bear this name above all other names. Does our life together reflect "the same mind that was in Christ Jesus"? Are we looking to the interests of others rather than our own interests? Are humility and servanthood evident among us? Having the mind of Christ ought to shape not only the internal life of a congregation, but its relationship with its community and the world. By following Jesus in identifying with the lowly and giving ourselves away in humble service to a suffering world, we honor "the name that is above every name." If we are to be Jesus’ disciples, we are invited us to walk in his way, to share his sufferings, to imitate his attitudes, to “empty” ourselves, to live in service of others – in short, to love others as he loves us. This is not at all a call to a life of pain and misery. Quite the contrary, it is an invitation to a life of deep freedom, peace and happiness. If it were anything else, it would not be worth considering. Let this week give us divine hope. No hardship, no burden, no cross not even the Coronavirus can conquer us if we remain steadfast in Christ Jesus, letting Him transform all we endure in life by His glorious embrace of His own Cross.