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Epistle:                       Romans 6:3-11

Psalm                           114

Gospel:                        Mark 16:1-8

Hello friends, my name is Dr. Mark Hobson, and welcome to this homily teaching on Holy Saturday, the Great Vigil of Easter. The title of my teaching is “The Garden of Life.” I begin this teaching today with a proclamation of the Gospel.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark + (May the Word of the Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart).

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.,

The Gospel of the Lord.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel I proclaimed today is the opening message for Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday.  We read that Jesus enters Jerusalem triumphantly yet humbly on a donkey to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” We realize one day, the crowds are cheering Jesus yet another day, they are jeering Him. Humanity is flawed. To understand the Kingship of Jesus, we need to accept the joy and the suffering, His authority and humility, His Divinity, and humanity.

Many years ago, I was a Theology teacher at a Catholic High School.  Around this time of year, I assigned my students a 500-word essay titled, “If I were queen or king of the world for a day, I would…”  Each student would complete the topic sentence and write what he or she would do if they were the absolute monarchy, the final word and power on the planet.  Some essays contained simple truths for world peace and social justice.  Some contained fair economic and political systems for a new world order.  Many contained extravagant ways to gain personal riches, fame, and power.  Many of the assignments were quite moving as students related the work to Jesus as they figured out my underlying meaning. “Queen or king of the World” is a tall order for a 15-year-old.  My question for you and me today is what would we do with absolute power?  Would we first help ourselves, our families, and friends? Would we choose to help others?  Would we lock up our enemies and throw away the key? Would we try to accomplish all this and more?

After I graded and returned the papers, I drew the lesson for my students to the reality of Jesus; about His coming into the world not for riches, fame, or power yet for love, salvation, and humility: to fulfill the ancient prophesy from Zechariah as Messiah, the Anointed One, who entered the great spiritual city not riding on horse and chariot but a donkey.  On that day, the people knew He was the One and they were right.

One day in the real history of the world, along came a man raised in a small town in the Middle East.  He lived when travel was generally on foot or by boat and communication was almost exclusively word of mouth.  He spoke a simple message of love and peace.  About Him, the prophet Isaiah (50:4) writes, “The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary.” He brought good news. He lifted the sinner. He healed the sick.  He faced down demons.  He took an earthly body to fulfill His Father’s Plan to save the world from sin and death.  He ministered in an area 35 miles from his home.  He never went beyond that border, yet his fame spread to every nation.  In that corner of the world, He established a kingdom for now and the future.  He set astounding yet simple truths for world peace and social justice.  He told his followers to love God with all their hearts, minds, and souls and to love one another as He loved them.  Moreover, He loved his followers more deeply than anyone on earth before or after Him.  Saint Paul tells us, “He humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross! Because of this, God highly exalted him.”  He loved his followers even after death.

Eyewitness believers proclaimed that He rose from death just as He said and returned to His Father in Heaven to continue the work of salvation for the world.  The King of the World also gave us, His followers, the way to follow Him to heaven.  That way is the Gospel: the message we hear every Sunday in Church. The meaning of Palm Sunday is we have a King who is the way, truth, and life.

On this day, as Scripture shares the passion of our King, I encourage all of us to follow His way.  I exhort us in the strongest terms to follow the King not just for a day but our entire lives.  Let us gladly tell others about this way as we would give directions to a lost tourist. Let us speak the word of Jesus not just by what we say but more importantly by what we do: that we love others as He loves us.  Let’s invite others to know our King. If we follow this way, life will not always be easy.  We will not be guaranteed riches, fame, or power.  Perhaps our enemies will still taunt us. Yet, we will be fulfilled in a way that is beyond telling. We will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding. We will know like the centurion, surely this Man is the Son of God and surely the King loves us forever.  May every knee bow and every tongue proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord! Amen.

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,

every tongue confess him King of glory now;

’tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,

who from the beginning was the mighty Word.

 

Humbled for a season, to receive a name

from the lips of sinners, unto whom he came;

faithfully he bore it spotless to the last,

brought it back victorious when from death he passed.

 

Christians, this Lord Jesus shall return again,

with his Father’s glory o’er the earth to reign;

for all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,

and our hearts confess him King of glory now (Caroline Marie Noel, 1817-77).

 

Thank you for reading and listening, my friends.

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