HOMILY: Beneath the Shadow of the Cross

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion | March 19/20, 2016

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

PROTIP: You can take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

My friends, this past Friday was an incredibly difficult day.

In the morning, I stood with the Salesianum community as we buried a young man just months away from his graduation.

And just a few hours later, I would be standing beside one of my students explaining to him that his mother had just died.

If ever there was a day in which I felt trapped in the shadow of the cross, Friday was it.

And yet, in the midst of the tremendous grief and sadness, there were moments in which God’s light broke through.

The first occurred at Sallies as the students slowly walked the casket of their peer down the front steps of the school into the waiting hearse.  As the principal and I watched, we could not help but put our arms around each other.  There we stood, shoulder to shoulder, supporting one another as we struggled to carry this tremendous cross.

Later that day, I would have a similar moment with my student.  As I broke the news to him, we both sat next to each other, arms around each other, holding each other close as we grappled with a cross that we had not foreseen and did not ask for.

And in those two encounters, I received a glimpse of the gift that Simon offered Jesus in his final hours.

The gift of standing beside someone and helping them to carry their cross.

For in Christ’s darkest hour, Simon became the embodiment of God’s light.  Holding the demons of despair and doubt at bay.

My friends, each of us has our crosses that we shoulder each and every day.

From minor inconveniences to family members who are estranged, from medical diagnoses to addictions, from past wounds to future uncertainties, from mental illness to the loss of a loved one.  We all know what it means to carry a cross.

But as followers of Christ, we are choosing to say that the cross does not have the final word.  That the powers of darkness, sin and death are ultimately powerless in the face of God’s light, God’s mercy, God’s love.

And as followers of Christ, we are choosing to be like Simon for the sake of all those who labor under the shadow of the cross.  By standing beside one another in our darkest hours.  By shouldering another’s load as we walk towards Calvary.  By offering our own selves for the sake of our sister and brother who sit beside us.

Our lives may often be lived under the shadow of the cross, my friends.

But God is still here.  Each and every time we become like Simon for one another.  May God be Praised.


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