Sermon for Sunday, April 13, 2014
Palm Sunday, Year A
I remember as a young man hiking in New Hampshire when, just off the trail, I saw a maturing oak tree – maybe 30 or 40 years-old – that looked to be growing impossibly out of solid rock. Fascinated, I walked over to take a closer look. As I looked around, I discovered that the solid-looking boulder actually had a narrow, natural crevice in the middle where, I imagined, the oak’s initial acorn must have fallen and found just enough dirt and moisture, and just enough depth, to allow it to put down roots and begin to grow. The initial crevice was wider now, with the matching, fractured sides of the rock being slowly pushed apart by the swelling trunk.
When I listen to the Passion Gospel this morning, I am reminded of that tree. Just when I thought that the Passion Gospel had broken me apart enough, just when I thought it had put down “roots” into me as deep as they could go, I am surprised to discover that, with this year’s reading of the Passion, I am split even further open, and the Gospel’s “roots” have pierced me even deeper. I would have thought that hearing the Passion Gospel as many times as I’ve heard it would somehow make it easier to hear. Rather, each year the Passion Gospel becomes harder for me to hear. I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me – it is the word of God, “living and active,” piercing like a sharp sword, after all.
Maybe that’s the point. Maybe the point of the Passion Gospel – and all of Holy Week – is to pierce us and split us open. The Passion Gospel and Holy Week pierce us and split us open, not only so that we might be made aware of the depths inside of us, but also so that he who has the power to heal and bring life might enter in and restore us to wholeness.
This week, I invite us to enter as fully as we are able into Holy Week. Enter not only into the liturgies by being present, but also enter into whatever these liturgies stir up in us. For as we enter into these liturgies and allow ourselves to be split open and be pierced, he can enter us and restore us to wholeness and health.
I know it can be scary to be so split open and to let Christ take root in us – or, at least I find it scary. And yet, deep down in my heart of hearts, what I truly desire is to let Christ take root and grow in me. This week I will be praying for the grace of letting Him take root and grow in me. I wonder what might be in your heart of hearts. And I wonder if this week you might ask Him for what you desire.