Reflection on Palm Sunday

A few years ago I returned from a pilgrimage to India. Being approximately eighty percent Hindu and fifteen percent Muslim, it is difficult finding a Catholic Church there. But our Italian born priest was motivated to have daily mass in a church, and the local guide and driver found themselves in parts of cities they had never seen before as a result. While I was there I realized that I still love the Church.

 In prayer I found myself asking God: “What would I do without you?” The answer became obvious. Through the Church, God’s love for me has been revealed. Oh yes, it has not been without feeling unwanted as a gay Catholic. But my humiliation brings me closer to Christ. 

Is that not the message of Palm Sunday? For while we like to join the parade and wave our palms, we also know that to follow Jesus, is a journey that leads to Calvary.

 When I returned from Asia, I was asked what moved me the most about India. Immediately I said: “Going to Mother Teresa’s house.” Written in fresh flower petals on her marble tomb were the words: “You are precious to Him.”

I knelt down and found myself asking Mother Teresa to help me live the Gospel. Here I was at the tomb of a woman who had been spit on for helping the ‘untouchables’. A story is told that after she was spit on, she thanked the person who tried to humiliate her, and asked a second time for food for the untouchable young woman she was helping.

Living the Gospel requires transforming the humiliations that life brings into compassion. Using my conscience requires that even if I don’t like the Church authority that does not welcome me, I am called to love them. Jesus example on Palm Sunday reminds us that the crowd is fickle. One day they wave banners in your honor, the next day they can reject us.

Our call to ministry in the Catholic community is supported in the prayer this Palm Sunday for Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem:

 “Increase the faith of those who place their hope in you O God, and graciously hear the prayers of those who call on you, that we, who today hold high these branches to hail Christ in his triumph, may bear fruit for you in good works accomplished in him. Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

John Montague earned his Master of Divinity from Regis College, University of Toronto. He is an active member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He has a Master of Social Work, and, until his retirement, provided counselling to individuals, couples, and families. For the past seventeen years he has organized a Day of Reflection for Catholic parents of lesbian daughters, gay sons, and transgendered children.

  • Peter Bisson, SJ
    Posted at 01:21h, 15 April Reply

    Thank you John!

  • Mike Hyland
    Posted at 09:59h, 15 April Reply

    This is what we are all called to do – to love in the midst of hate or rejection. Thanks John, for being an image of the Christ we are all called to be.

  • Eileen Curran
    Posted at 11:36h, 15 April Reply

    Your humility and compassion move me.

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