Rorate Caeli

Fontgombault Sermon for Palm Sunday 2019: The Meaning of the Passover of Flowers

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
(Fontgombault, April 14th, 2019)

Pascha Floridum

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

It is with a suggestive name that our forefathers called this day: “Palm Sunday,” or also “Hosanna Sunday,” and “Pascha Floridum”, that is to say “Flowery Passover.” There are now only eight days left separating us from the solemnity of solemnities, the Lord’s Passover. 

Today, this holy day must first blossom before it can bear its fruit. Nature shares in our impatience. The fog and cold that went with the first days of Lent are now making way for colours, smells, the whisperings of spring. After the silence of winter, nature comes alive again. The Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, sitting on a colt, amid an enthusiastic crowd, doesn’t strike a false note in this bucolic context. What a fine forerunner to the joy of Easter!

How tempting it would be to follow Jesus on the easy path that is profiling, and which would lead us in a quiet way to our own Passover.

But Jesus did not don our humanity to receive kingship or glory in this world. What a contrast between the thoughts of men and the thought of God! Jesus does possess glory and kingship, and they come from the Father. His true glorification before men took place before a handful of disciples, a few days before, during His Transfiguration. His glorification will take place once more, for those who may understand, when He is lifted up on the Calvary.

Jesus enters Jerusalem so as to die there. It is the hour of the supreme dispossession of His humanity. It is also the hour of the crowning of His mission. It is His hour. He Who is without sin has weighed Himself down with our own sins’ burden of hatred: hatred against God, hatred against our brothers and sisters in humanity, hatred against the creation.

In His death, a supreme injustice, He doesn’t allow Himself to be overcome by hatred, but He pours out over the world an immeasurable love.

At the end of the way, after He has vanquished and crossed the gates of death, He opens up man’s misery to God’s mercy, and offers us to don a transfigured humanity.

Let us begin this Holy Week as a path of communion with Jesus, a path on which to walk in truth. If we die with Him, with Him we shall live. If we die with Him, God will recognise in us His Son’s image, and will resurrect us with Him.

How can we die with Christ? Let us die to our own sin through the sacrament of penance. Let us die to our bad habits, our steadfast hatreds. Let us convert, so as to live consistently with our faith and the promises of our baptism. Let us at all times become children of light.

Whereas the holy mysteries are nearing by, let us prepare with seriousness to the renewal of our baptismal promises. Have a Holy Week, in the school of Mary, Mater dolorosa. May the Passover flower in our souls before it bears its fruit.