Friday, April 15, 2011

Palm Sunday

Sunday is Palm Sunday, one of two days in the liturgical year in which we hear read the entire Passion. (The other is of course Good Friday.)  It can be somewhat challenging going for a listener, depending on those doing the reading and also depending on the text being read.

I have a thought that might help you make the most of the moment.  Think of the reading like the stations of the Cross -- we move from location to location and at each place, there's a scene or two for us to behold.  And then the procession moves on.

But we don't necessarily have to.  The place where you find yourself affected strongly, that's the place you should stay.  That's the place God is trying to speak to you right now.  So, if you're there with Jesus in the garden, and his plea to the Lord affects you, stay with that.  Let his words be like a quiet mantra that you say to yourself as you breathe.  If what stands out is his path to the cross, and/or those that are there with him along the way, be with them. Let your imagination go and watch how he proceeds, watch how they react.  If it's at the cross itself that you are engaged, let yourself be in the crowd, or the thief by his side.  Wherever you want to be, that is where you should be.

When I was learning how to preach, our professor made this comment that has stayed with me: if you look into the congregation and you see people's minds wandering, it might not be because you're failing, but because you're succeeding. Your job is to help them make a connection with God.  And your homily should have plenty of such opportunities.  If they've taken one of the earlier off-ramps, so be it, job well done.

The same is true with the reading of the Passion.  You're not obligated to follow along the whole way or to be moved by every detail. You're there as ever to grow closer to God. So,  take the off-ramp that is presented to you, wherever it is, and let God show you what he wants to show you.  

May your Holy Week be blessed!


Michelle said...

When my mind wanders off in a homily I've taken to asking myself if I've found an off-ramp or just driven off the's a helpful metaphor from a listener's point of view as well.

Chad said...

Jack, and Ally took the first off ramp after we got on the Interstate. Meggan stayed on a while asking questions why there were different people talking. She could tell I was trying to read along and kept asking me to show her how much longer in text.

I do have to say one thing, it would be nice if the text read was actually the one in the missalette...

Jim McDermott, S.J. said...

It should be, you're right, Chad!

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