Palm Sunday Homily

Posted on Apr 11, 2017


9 April 2017


Several years ago, weeks before Christmas, a friend brought over two packages for me.

She said, “These two go together. Be careful with them.”

Dutifully I put them aside until Christmas.

Christmas Day evening, I sat by myself and suddenly remembered the two packages.

I went and found them and opened them up.

The first was a crude antique wooden sculpture of Jesus.

I studied it and decided, I didn’t like it.

Jesus was ugly at the worst, at the best, he was so plain-faced–

without character, or whatever it is we look for in great people.

I want my Jesus to look like he’s somebody important.

This Jesus was just too, ordinary.

The second package contained a cross.

A flimsy kind of cross. It fit perfectly over Jesus’ shoulder.

But again, I didn’t like it.  It was too flimsy, too cheap, too light.

When my friend asked how I’d liked her gift, I didn’t lie.

“He’s not my type of Jesus,” I said. She wanted to know why and I explained.

“Oh no,” She said, “You’ve got it all wrong.

He is precisely right.

He is not anyone you would notice, anyone you would be drawn to.

He is not someone who could shake the world.

And that little cross–well it’s the little things that kill us all.

A tiny blood vessel pops inside our heads,

A small patch of ice on the freeway sends our car into another car.

A little lie is the final darkness that kills your soul.

No, he and the cross are precisely right.”

I’ve thought about that ever since she said it.

To this day I keep that sculpture of Jesus where I see it every day.

Those romantic and sentimental pictures of Jesus–they’re lies.

The point of Jesus may have been that he was so, ordinary.

He could have been anyone, could have been someone we didn’t like.

And yet he was capable of loving us who might have taunted him,

or perhaps worst, simply ignored him .

We don’t think the people we dislike, the people who are ugly to us,

the people we ignore are capable of loving us, or even if they are, it doesn’t matter.   

We don’t need their love.

And perhaps that may be the point of Jesus.

We do need their love and we never understand how much we do this side of death.