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Palm Sunday Homily

By Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ

Gospel: The Passion According to Matthew

Early in life, we learn the lesson that there are moments that we can miss and there is no going back again. This insight shows up in our phrases and even can be conveyed in a person’s tone of voice:

  • You have one shot.
  • I was asleep at the wheel.
  • Pay attention!
  • Sorry, you were not listening.
  • Too late, you were not here.

This admonition is found in the gospel account of the foolish virgins who end up locked out of the wedding party as they had fallen asleep and did not have the necessary oil for their lamps.

In this time of social distancing, when special events are being put on hold (or even cancelled), it can feel like we are missing out and that we will not be able to go back. This can lead to a frantic desire to make up for “lost time.”

The Scriptures, however, reveal to us that our compassionate God loves surprise endings. He always chooses the weaker team. He plays the long odds. From our football history, we could say that He loves the “Hail Mary” play.

We encounter this today in the Passion according to Matthew.

  • Jesus is dead.
  • Jesus is buried.
  • Jesus is in the tomb with a huge stone wheel in front.
  • There is a seal on the stone wheel of the tomb.
  • AND, the tomb is guarded by armed Roman soldiers.

Did I mention that God likes it when the odds are stacked against Him? God delights in turning our predictable world upside down. As it says in the Passion today, the sun is blotted out. The earth quakes. The dead are seen. It is not enough that God raises his Son; lots of people come from the grave. Even the Roman soldiers are stunned.

Lately, in my personal prayer, I have been reminded of a Scripture from Exodus of the Chosen People from Egypt. The Chosen People are the weakest group at that time in history. They are trapped against the Red Sea and behind them coming at breakneck speed is the strongest army in the world, the Egyptians on fast chariots.

Did I mention that God likes it when the odds are stacked against Him? Amazingly, the Red Sea parts in front of the Chosen People, allowing for their escape and the demise of the Egyptians on chariots.

In Exodus 14:15, the Lord says to Moses: “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the people to go forward!”

Can we not hear this ourselves: “Why are you crying out to me? Go forward!”

The steady Hand of God opens a path in front of us. Can we not see it?





Recent News

May 28, 2020 - The international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Fr. Frederic Fornos, SJ, yesterday announced that he has named Fr. Joseph Laramie, SJ, the new national director for the United States.

May 27, 2020 - The Ignatian Spirituality Institute, while closed to in-person services, is working overtime to provide the spiritual guidance necessary to sort through these unprecedented times.

May 25, 2020 – In two of the more memorable and elegantly simple ceremonies in recent history, on May 24 Terrence Prendergast, SJ, Archbishop of Ottawa-Cornwall, ordained one priest and five deacons.

May 20, 2020 - Father A. Ferdinand Derrera, SJ, died May 15, 2020, in Grand Coteau, La. He was 96 years old, a Jesuit for 68 years and a priest for 58 years.

May 18, 2020 - In response to calls from both the Society of Jesus and the Church, the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province has established a Commission on Care for Our Common Home.

May 18, 2020 - In his sermon Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ, challenges us to find the work of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

May 18, 2020 — Fr. Garanzini succeeds Fr. Michael J. Sheeran, SJ, beginning July 1.

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