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

April 2, 2023

[Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa, Honolulu]

It is extremely painful to reconcile with someone who has hurt you very deeply.  It takes a lot of determination, struggle, perhaps even rejection.  Sometimes we just give up and hold a grudge forever.

It is a great burden to face the stresses of life and to keep on going when so many things seem to be going wrong.  Sometimes we try to escape by anesthetizing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, pornography, or just by gluing our eyes to a cell phone screen.

It is never easy to survive a painful and debilitating disease or accident or to do the extremely hard work of recovery.  We may be tempted to just take a pill and end it all.

It is extremely difficult to be freed of an addiction, to bear and raise a child one did not want, or to live life normally when one is being bullied.  And so we find creative ways to simply not deal with these issues.

Suffering is a part of life.  These days, we are tempted to escape suffering by escaping life – through suicide, through self-hatred, or through isolation from others who can potentially hurt us.  It is no secret that the number of suicides has dramatically increased, that many more people are depressed, and that there seems to be more and more conflict rather than peace among us.

But we have heard the Good News, the Gospel of the sufferings of Jesus.  They were horrible, undeserved, and cruel.  Jesus wanted his cup of suffering to pass him by.  Yet he accepted them, even becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross.  But we also know he rose from the dead, as we will celebrate at the end of this Holy Week.

How important it is for us today to be anchored to his passionate love for us that made him accept the greatest suffering and cruelest death so that he could strengthen us.  I cannot imagine going through life without Jesus and the strength he gives us in our greatest moments of suffering and disappointment.  Yet many do, and they find no ultimate consolation in anyone or anything else.  Often they find even more sufferings when they try so hard to escape them. They dull their pain with drugs or alcohol.  They avoid pain by avoiding people who could potentially cause it.  They check out of relationships and sometimes check out of life.

We are here not just to hear about the sufferings Jesus bore so long ago, but to learn how to suffer here and now and not lose hope.  How this message of hope is so sorely needed in the world today.  Yet who will bring it, if not we who learn from Jesus how to suffer in hope, how to suffer in love, and how to suffer even in joy, because we know that suffering is not the end of the story, only a tragic chapter of a story that ends in glory for those who take up their crosses.  This is true passion, the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ!