Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Homily - Passion Sunday - March 13, 2016

Today, the Lenten Season takes a turn.  We enter in to the season of Passiontide.  We do two things.  We recall the events which led to our Lord’s cross and resurrection.  The controversy with the Pharisees in today’s Gospel is one of many.  Our Lord has declared that God is His Father.  The Pharisees cannot hear this, they cannot tolerate these words.  St. Augustine says their hearts are as hard as the stones they pick up to cast at Him.  The Gospel says our Lord hid Himself.  St. Gregory the Great says our Lord is hidden from those who despise His word.  On the other hand, how present He is to those who believe in Him.  First come faith and love, and then our Lord reveals Himself.  In the Gospels, our Lord is purposeful and directed.  He is on the way to Jerusalem where He will undergo His suffering and cross.  He announces this to the disciples.  He knows Who He is, He knows what His mission is, and He is determined.  And yet, when He sees faith, He stops.  And some of the most wonderful encounters we have in the Gospel with our Lord is when He stops:  the widow of Naim, the woman caught in adultery, the man born blind.  And think of His appearances after the resurrection.  Who did He reveal Himself to?  Not Herod.  Not Pilate.  But to those who loved Him and had faith in Him, as weak as they were, the apostles, the disciples, the holy women.  This will always be true.  When we face exigencies of life either outside or within, we always have that place to go.  We show the Lord our faith and love, and He reveals Himself.  This is all over the Gospels.

Secondly, we recall in a deeper way the Lord’s cross.  The cross is the one means of salvation for the world, the one way, and our only hope.  And the devil knows this.  Think back to the first Sunday of Lent, and the Gospel, of our Lord’s temptation in the desert.  Each of the temptations was an attempt to separate our Lord from the cross.  Use your miraculous powers, “turn these stones into bread.”  But that is not the cross.  Spectacle, “throw yourself down from the temple.”  Just think of how many people would come out for that.  But God has not chosen to reveal Himself in that way.  Or the standards of the world, “I will give you all the kingdoms.”  And our Lord rejects each one.  He chooses the cross, because it is the one means of salvation.  Only the blood of the Son of God can satisfy for the sins of the world.

In our Epistle today, St. Paul develops this, comparing the sacrifice of Christ to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, and that our Lord Himself must be the sacrifice.  The blood of goats and calves entitled the high priest to enter into the sanctuary of the earthly temple, but no further.  Such earthly gestures could earn one ritual purity, but no more.  But our Lord, the Son of God, is the Eternal High priest, Whose blood entitles Him to enter into the sanctuary not made by hands, but eternal, heaven itself.  His sacrifice has touched us within.  He has forgiven our sins and cleansed our consciences.  Without the cross there is no Christianity, and without Christ there is no cross.  He is the Son of God, and His sacrifice is the perfect sacrifice, the one sacrifice, Whose blood suffices for the salvation of the world.

This would be enough to bring us to our knees in gratitude.  But there is more.  By His birth and incarnation, cross and resurrection, He has intervened in the world.  The Church fathers recall that original sin entered the world by the fruit of a tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, with dreadful consequences—the pride of wanting to know all things according to one’s own mentality, to judge all things according to one’s own criteria, as if there were no other judge of the world.  Thus began a journey of mankind to destruction.  But our Lord has intervened, and made that journey His own, taking it upon Himself on the cross, which leads to life now, and changes history, so that the journey is from one tree to the other, from the tree of the fall to the tree of life.  And since His is the perfect sacrifice, it is the decisive moment in history.  Mankind can reject the cross and go the way of destruction, or choose the cross and go the way of life.

Our Lord has brought salvation to all the world and to each one of us.  We unite ourselves to Him, and to the cross, and He takes us with Him, to the sanctuary not made by hands, to heaven, to the Father, our life’s goal.