Palm Sunday - Homily 5.4.1998

(end of the procession at Saint-Anne)

We have listened this afternoon to the Gospel of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. This morning we have also listened to the reading of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the defeat of Jesus on the human level. In the same city, Jesus was glorified and defeated. In it he taught and manifested himself to all. Some opened their eyes and saw, others did not. Some accepted Jesus and believed in him, others accused him as blasphemous and put him to death. Our salvation is rooted in this mystery of our human capacity of accepting and refusing the grace of God. The Word of God, God himself, humbled himself and became man similar to us in everything, except sin. It is not given to all to understand and to accept this mystery: though all salvation is achieved only through it. We begin our Holy Week in order to see better and to believe better. With the blind man we cry: "Lord, make me able to see", and like him, we will hear the Lord saying to us: "Your faith has saved you". Our faith will save us during our Holy Week. Our Holy Week will be a silent meditation before the Cross, an examination of conscience, to see how far we accept and how far we refuse the Cross in our life. Our Holy Week will be a way of the cross, a way of sharing in the penitence and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we come out of it as a new creature, renewed in the risen Lord. .

Prostrated in adoration before God, before the mystery of salvation accomplished by His Word, made man, we do not forget to look around us and see the human reality of the holy city: the conflict between two peoples, the extremisms, violences, the obstacles to peace, those who suffer in body and soul, the political prisoners, those who are tortured, those who are humiliated, those who live in fear, the political leaders still unable to find the ways which lead to peace, still unable to see what is good for this city, for this land and its two peoples, Israeli and Palestinian. This human reality, Palestinian and Israeli, in which is integrated our Holy Week, your Holy Week, dear pilgrims, invites you to meditate on the mystery of God in this holy city and on the mystery of men and women for whom it is still a place of dispute and fear, though it is holy and the source of peace and salvation. Let us pray, may God renew and strengthen our faith. Let us pray for peace and justice in the hearts of all. Let us pray for the whole Church of Jerusalem. The Easter of the Church of Jerusalem is prolonged this year over two weeks, according to two different calendars, and separate prayers, different on earth, but one before the Almighty, despite the divisions of men and women who believed in him. Easter in Jerusalem comprises also the Jewish Pesah and the Moslem Adha or feast of the sacrifice. It is in this general frame of the three religions that we live our Holy Week. This means that when we come to pray, all the graces and favours we ask for ourselves, we ask also for all believers in this city, Moslems, Jews and Christians. Go back to your homes, dear parishioners and pilgrims, who have participated in this procession and begin your Holy Week of penitence and the way of the cross which will lead you to the Resurrection. Amen.

+Michel Sabbah, Patriarch