Back in the 1920’s – a couple of college students who had spent the afternoon drinking were passing a Church. They noticed that confessions were being heard inside and thought it would be funny to try to come up with the most outrageous, scandalous, list of sins they could think of for someone to commit to see how shocked they could make the priest and to see what kind of reaction he would have in response. So they did, they came up with the list but they couldn’t agree who would be so brave to go into the confessional and try to do this goof on the priest. One of the guys looked to the guy, John, who had initiated the whole thing – who wasn’t even Catholic by the way – and said “It was your idea, put up or shut up – I bet you $20 you don’t have the guts to do it.” So John did, he went into the confessional, gave the priest the wild list of sins that was thought up by the group and a few minutes later came running out of the Church with a piece of paper in his hand laughing as he said “Pay up!”
This is my homily for APRIL 14, 2019 PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD. The readings for today’s Mass can be found HERE Thanks as always for reading; sharing this blog on your social media sites; and your feedback and comments. I appreciate it. Have a good week – God Bless – Fr Jim. AUDIO Also you can get the audios of the homilies from iTunes as a Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fr-jim-cherns-homilies/id1440618142?mt=2
They asked “What did he say?” and John responded “Nothing, as I went through the whole list of stuff, he never said a word -at the end he just handed this to me and said it’s my penance” – they asked him – “did you do it?” To which John laughed “Come on… don’t be stupid, I’m not going to do it…” And the friends pushed back “well you didn’t really do the whole confession thing then, and if you didn’t do the whole thing, we’re not giving you the $20.” So John went back into the Church and read the note
The paper said “kneel before the crucifix at the altar and repeat 10 times – All this you did for me and I don’t give a damn. “ No problem the guy thought as he knelt down before the altar. He uttered the words a few times, but the more he looked at the crown of thorns, the nailed hands, the pierced side, the infinite sadness in the Crucified’s eyes the words came out a little differently: “You did that for me? And I don’t give a damn?” By the end, he was in tears as his words became simply: “You did that for me?”. A half an hour later his friends wondered what had happened as they found him crying like a baby at the altar rail. A year later he would become Catholic, and years later, the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris
Each year, on Palm Sunday something unique occurs that does not happen on any other Sunday. The Gospel is proclaimed by the entire congregation. We each have a role in the Passion. Not because it’s too long for the priest to do themselves or to make sure the congregation doesn’t lose attention as the lengthy reading goes on. Quite simply this makes it personal for us. It’s to remind each and everyone of us that because of our sinfulness – we each have a role, we each have a part, we each speak a line that brings about Jesus’ death on the Cross. Sometimes that line is shouted loudly and boldly screaming CRUCIFY HIM. Sometimes it’s a line spoken subtly but just as destructively, mumbling“I don’t know the man” as we deny Christ.
In spite of those failures on our part as human beings from generation to generation, Jesus allows this to occur. This onetime event of His Passion for the sins of all humanity is made present in this Word and on our altar in the Eucharist. It’s God the Father’s definitive and eternal response to humanity that no matter how cruel, how indifferent, how hurtful we can be to Him and to one another, His arms remain stretched out in the most definitive act of love that the history of humanity has ever recorded for you and I.
The question we’re left with, kneeling before the crucified one, do we give a damn?