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Preaching On Palm Sunday
- Radmar Jao, S.J.

FLESH MADE WORD

"I love preaching for special liturgies like Palm Sunday because there is so much inherent drama in the readings that makes it that much more fun and engaging for me as a preacher and for the congregation. It’s “easier” to draw people into the drama of the Paschal Mystery on these occasions of our liturgical calendar because of the concrete symbols they can relate to and connect to God’s grace and love.

The rich imagery of the readings, the sacramentals, the liturgical colors, are all fair game to use when preaching. One should not be afraid to incorporate these tangible symbols of God’s grace and presence when preparing your homily. Of course, keep in mind these are to be used only insofar as they help support your message, rather than being a distraction or simply filler.

I use St. Ignatius’ “First Principle and Foundation” as my grounding when I craft and write my homilies. In it he says that human beings are created to “praise, reverence and honor” God. God created all things in this world for us to use insofar as they lead us closer to God. Thus, we are to use God’s gifts for this purpose. If any created thing leads us away from God, then we push it aside.

I believe this principle applies to preaching as well. If our primary goal as preachers is to help the people of God draw closer to God (and I believe it is!), then it follows that all is fair game to use for that purpose. Frankly, it helps with the editing process, and humbles me knowing that it’s not about my eloquence, my intelligence, or my demeanor. It’s all about God!"

 


 

Close to You, Jesus

 



A Conversation with Radmar Jao, SJ

 


 

Questions for Reflection

  1. What are the pastoral issues around preaching on Palm Sunday?
  2. How do you preach on two very different Gospels (Palm and Passion)?  Is time a factor in planning this celebration?
  3. What role does symbol and ritual action play in creating this homily?              
  4. Is it liturgically appropriate to connect the drama of the Palm Sunday liturgy with the rest of the Triduum? What are the pros and cons?
  5. How do you make the entrance procession of palms have more meaning and impact, especially if you have a short distance to travel?
  6. How can the Palm Sunday homily lead people into a more meaningful celebration of Holy Week?
  7. How do you make Palm Sunday and Holy Week relevant to those on the periphery of the Church? (i.e. the seeker, the doubter, the disenfranchised?)