Christ of St John of the Cross, Salvador Dali (1902–1989), 1952; Kelvingrove Art Gallery

Fr Neil’s homily after the Gospel of the Palms on Palm Sunday, 10 April 2022

What is written about me is coming to fulfilment.¹

We will hear these words of Christ in the Passion reading² that definitively reveals him as the true suffering servant whom the prophet Isaiah foretold³ and who is the long-expected Messiah. These words also point to the fact that everything that God has revealed in the law and the prophets is given its full meaning in Christ’s Passion.

The story of our salvation that we hear today is a journey which we are invited to participate in as we make our way carrying our palm branches.

As we make our journey with Christ to his passion we, on the one hand, do so as the crowd who sang “Hosanna to the Son of David,” and yet will later cry “Crucify! Crucify!”

There is the tradition of folding these palms into crosses. Doing this, we are reminding ourselves that we also journey with Christ carrying our own crosses. Our cross can often be the burden of bearing other people’s sinful acts but inescapably they are also crosses of our own making.

Christ was tormented, beaten, mocked, spat upon, had his hands and feet pierced, his garments stripped from him and gambled over by soldiers, and was three times dared to prove his true identity by delivering himself from suffering.

Christ could at any moment command twelve legions of angels to deliver him and defeat his enemies. But he doesn’t. What is it that keeps him on this road to Golgotha? It is not nails that hold Christ upon the cross but love. Loving obedience to the Father, love for the fallen world, compassion for broken humanity and a true faith that “The Lord God is my help…I shall not be put to shame.”⁴

With Christ’s crucifixion, the cross has been transformed from a sign of an instrument of torture into the badge which all Christians have, hold, exclaim and embrace, as it has been transformed into the way and means of our salvation and life.

It shows love triumphs over death. It call us to follow the example of Christ in humble obedience to the Father as we bear the trials and crosses of our life. It tells us that we shall never be forsaken by God and that one day we shall hears those words “today you will be with me in paradise.”⁵

¹ Luke 22:37
² Luke 22:14–23:56
³ Isaiah 50:4–7
⁴ Isaiah 50:7
⁵ Luke 23:43