Chapel of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Pontifical North American College, Rome
April 2, 2023
Is 50, 4-7
Ps 22, 8-9. 17-18. 19-20. 23-24
Phil 2, 6-11
Mt 26, 14-27, 66
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and for ever. Amen.
The observance of the most sacred days of the Church Year fittingly begins with the procession recalling Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem to celebrate His last Passover, the Passover which He transformed forever by His Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension. Saint Paul in the Letter to the Philippians
expresses the great mystery which we begin to celebrate today and will be celebrating throughout Holy Week: Christ, God the Son Incarnate, Who “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,”
is seated at the right hand of the Father, “is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Christ is indeed King of Heaven and Earth. Christ revealed His royal glory by giving Himself into the hands of those who mocked Him, tortured Him cruelly, and then executed Him in the most ignominious manner possible at the time. He handed Himself over to suffering and death, knowing that He would “not be put to shame,”
for He had been sent by God the Father to fulfill the Father’s promise of eternal salvation.
Today, we carry blessed palms and hail Christ as our King, knowing that His Kingship is exercised by the outpouring of His life for us on Calvary, made always new in the Eucharistic Sacrifice we offer. When Our Lord Jesus Christ had died for us on the cross, His Royal Heart was pierced by the Roman soldier’s spear, a sign of the outpouring of His whole life for our eternal salvation; His glorious Royal Heart remains eternally pierced, opened, in order to receive our worship, our hearts, and to transform them by the immeasurable and unceasing outpouring of divine grace, making our hearts like His own in pure and selfless love. After today’s Holy Mass, let us take the blessed palm with us and enthrone it by the crucifix or the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so that it may remind us, each day and throughout each day, to give our hearts completely to Jesus Christ, our Lord and King.
As, today, we have mystically accompanied our Lord during His glorious entry into Jerusalem, so let us also accompany Him, throughout Holy Week, on the Way of the Cross, the path of His eternal glory and the pledge of the same glory which He has won for us as our lasting inheritance. Let our union with Christ during these holiest of days become the form of our daily living, as Our Lord teaches us in the Gospel, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Today and throughout Holy Week, let us reflect upon the mystery of Christ’s Suffering and Dying, the mystery of His Royal Heart, pierced after He given up His life for us on the Cross. Reflecting upon the Way of the Cross, let us unite to the sufferings of Christ the sufferings which we bear in our lives and the sufferings of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. In a particular way, let us unite to the sufferings of Christ the sufferings of His Mystical Body, the Church, which is passing through a time of pervasive confusion and error, with their fruits which are division, apostasy, and schism. Uniting our sufferings to Christ’s Passion and Death, let us pray for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world, that we may have an undivided heart, a heart totally united to the Heart of Jesus, a humble heart which is not put to shame, for it belongs completely to God, trusting in His Providence and praying: “But you, O Lord, be not far off! O my help, hasten to my aid.”
Standing mystically with Saint John Apostle and Evangelist at the foot of Our Lord’s cross, may our hearts be one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. May they be totally for Christ. May they ever heed the maternal counsel of the Mother of God, the Mother of Divine Grace, to her children in distress: “Do whatever He tells you.”
May our hearts become royal in the Royal Heart of Jesus, kingly in all of the virtues of Our Lord, the virtues by which we are inspired and strengthened to lay down our lives for the glory of God and the salvation of our world. Let us meditate upon the teaching of Pope Saint John Paul II in his first Encyclical Letter, Redemptor Hominis. Referring to the reality of Christ’s Kingship in the human heart, he reminds us of the kingly nature of our life in Christ, writing:
If, in the light of this attitude of Christ’s, “being a king” is truly possible only by “being a servant” then “being a servant” also demands so much spiritual maturity that it must really be described as “being a king”. In order to be able to serve others worthily and effectively we must be able to master ourselves, possess the virtues that make this mastery possible. Our sharing in Christ’s kingly mission – his “kingly [office]” (munus) is closely linked with every sphere of both Christian and human morality.
The Kingship of Christ over human hearts is not some ideal to which all are called but only a few can attain. It is, rather, a reality of divine grace which helps even the weakest and the most tried human subject to attain a heroic degree of virtue, if he or she only cooperates with that divine grace.
Christ crucified and risen from the dead now sacramentally renews for us the Sacrifice which He first offered on Calvary, the Sacrifice for which He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the Sacrifice by which He has freed us from sin, the Sacrifice by which He was won for us eternal life. In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we take up with Christ the cross, receiving the incomparable fruit of His Sacrifice: His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, the spiritual food for our earthly pilgrimage home to God the Father. Receiving Christ in Holy Communion, may we bring Christ to all whom we meet, in accord with His promise:
If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 “Si igitur secundum illum Christi habitum vel affectum aliquis «regnare» proprie valet dumtaxat «serviendo», simul postulat illud «serviendi» officium talem maturitatem spiritualem, quae dicenda sit prorsus significare aliquem «regnare». Ut quis ideo digne efficaciterque ceteris inserviat, oportet is dominetur in semet ipsum possideatque virtutes, quae permittant, ut ita dominetur. Nostra participatio regalis missionis Christi – illius quidem «muneris regalis» – arcto vinculo cohaeret cum omni regione doctrinae moralis, tam chistianae quam etiam humanae.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Litterae Encyclicae Redemptor Hominis, “Pontificali eius Ministerio ineunte,” 4 Martii 1979, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 71 (1979), 316, n. 21. English translation: Pope John Paul II, Encyclicals (Trivandrum, Kerala, India: Carmel International Publishing House, 2005), p. 1116, no. 21.