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Bishop's Homily for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

March 28, 2021

[Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, Honolulu]

A passionate kiss is much more than a peck on the cheek.  A passionate embrace is more emphatic than a mere hug.  These are romantic terms that conjure up images of two people deeply in love; overcome with love for each other.  In the midst of this kind of passionate love, great music has been composed and beautiful poetry has been written.

I do not think it is any mere coincidence that the Church refers to this Gospel we just heard as the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  There has never been a love more committed, more on fire, more passionate than the love of Jesus for us.  But it is not just a love that gazes starry-eyed into the eyes of the beloved.  It is a love so deep that it puts up with betrayal from a trusted companion, denial by an intimate friend, abandonment by those who enjoyed a bond of brotherhood.  It is a love so profound that it is scourged, and mocked, and spat upon, and crucified, but that will not die.  That is the love Jesus has for us.

If he has loved us so, we are to love one another with a passionate love.  A love that stays up all night to care for a sick child; a love that commutes an hour to work every day to bring sustenance and joy to one’s family; a love that speaks the truth about the sanctity of life when everyone else is speaking of the sanctity of ease.  A love that comes to worship every single weekend, even though there are dozens of more fun things to do, and even when we may be a little frightened by a virus.  A love that forgives when it is offended.  A love that weeps bitterly because it has betrayed the beloved.  A love that takes a troubled child into a permanent home and family.  A love that agonizes over the homeless and the poor, looking for a way to truly help them.  A love that stands up for the truth that God has revealed, even when it brings mockery, ridicule, and rejection.

It is God who has made us capable of such a passionate love for one another because he has first loved us so passionately.  We will never be kissed or embraced so passionately as we were when Jesus opened his arms to us on the cross, battling Satan and death itself because he loves us so much.  The world longs to be loved so passionately by us who have first been loved by Christ.