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2018-03-25 Homily. Fr. François Beyrouti. "Comfort and Commitment"

March 25, 2018. Comfort and Commitment. Homily. Father François Beyrouti.
Palm Sunday and the Feast of the Annunciation

The part of the Divine Liturgy where the priest leads a reflection on the Gospel is called the homily.

A priest told his community that he suffers a lot every week when he prepares the homily. At the end of Church someone told him “Father, you suffer every week when you prepare the homily and we suffer even more when we have to listen to your homily.”

Today is not a day of suffering, it is a day of great joy. It is a day of great joy because we welcome Jesus our savior among us as the crowds in Jerusalem welcomed him with palm branches and said “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” They welcomed Jesus because they recognized Him as the promised messiah who will save the world from sin and death.

The prophets of the Old Testament gave people signs to recognize the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the messiah. The prophet Isaiah, who wrote 800 years before Jesus, prophesied the specifics of Jesus’ birth when he said: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”, that is God is with us (Isaiah 7:14).

Psalm 22, which was written 1000 years before Jesus, gives specifics of Jesus’ death on the cross: “a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet -- I can count all my bones -- they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots” (Psalm 22:16-18). This Psalm was written even before crucifixion had been invented as a means of torture.

The specifics of Jesus’ welcome into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday was also prophesied. 520 years before Jesus, the prophet Zechariah wrote: “Exult greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold: your king is coming to you, a just savior is he, Humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (9:9).

This image of a king riding on a donkey would have been a very strange one to everyone listening, because kings ride on horses as a sign of victory, whereas a donkey is a humble animal used for labor and service. By riding on a donkey, Jesus shows that He is a humble savior who came to serve us, heal us, die for us, and conquer death. Today we welcome Jesus as our humble king who comes into our lives not to conquer but to serve.

Jesus wants to comfort us but we should never get too comfortable. Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection are not ideas. These are the main points of a lifestyle that we need to daily commit to.

We may be proud that Christianity is the largest religion in the world. There are 1.2 billion Catholics, approximately 250 million Orthodox, and all the different protestant denominations together number around 900 million. Therefore, there are over 2.5 billion Christians. However, the heart of Christianity is not in numbers it is in the simple and humble message that Jesus proclaimed.

Today is a day of great joy because we are all together. This joy can only last when we remain focused on the source of our joy, that Jesus was born, died, and rose from the dead for us. We need to ask ourselves some simple questions.

Jesus is the prince of peace. Do we His followers live His peace in our lives?

Jesus forgave sins. Do we his followers forgive ourselves and others?

Jesus died for us. Have we his followers died to a life that is contrary to the Gospel and are we ready to embrace His message in a new and vibrant way in every aspect of our lives?

We as a parish have started a program called “Be My Witness” which will remind us why we are followers of Jesus, what this means in our everyday life, and how we can share that joy with others. We want to always keep Christ at the center of our parish and personal life.

The profound message of Christ requires discipline and commitment. We have to understand what we believe, live what we believe, and share what we believe. This is authentic Christianity that is simple, humble, yet profound and life changing. Regardless of where you are in your faith, today welcome Jesus in a new way into every aspect of your life.

When I give a homily my intention is not to suffer or inflict suffering on those who are listening. But today, let us all suffer as we uproot anything that is stopping us from becoming full and active disciples of Jesus. Let us spend a few minutes in silence to welcome and recommit our lives to be humble followers of the suffering and Risen Lord.

Before we say “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” let us invite Jesus to be the master of everything we think, say, and do.

Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
Office: (714) 985-1710
My cell: (714) 914-1710
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