Hosanna – Save – we ask – recognise him as our Saviour

I welcome you all here today most warmly on this Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion.  During this coming week we journey, with the Lord Jesus, through his suffering and death on the cross.  We offer up our own sufferings to God, Our Father and ask that they be united to the sufferings of Jesus Christ.  We offer up our prayers in union with His prayers – for those who have disappeared and for their families and friends.

I welcome you as a very special group of people – people very well acquainted with sufferings in your own lives and therefore very well prepared to celebrate the Passion and Death of Christ.  I welcome you as people of great prayer – who are well aware that in Baptism you were bound to Jesus.  As the families of those who have disappeared without track or trace left behind, you gather today to give thanks that, due to the efforts of those who have searched, and due to many other factors and especially as believers, we thank God that the remains of

Jean McConville    Brian McKinney    John McClory
Eugene Simons    Eamon Molloy    Danny McIlhone
Gareth O’Connor    Charlie Armstrong    Gerry Evans
Peter Wilson        
Which have been recovered and given Christian burials.

As we carry forward candles in honour of those not yet discovered:
Kevin McKee    Seamus Wright    Brendan Megraw
Columba McVeigh    Seamus Ruddy    Joe Lynskey
Robert Niarac        

We see those candles as symbols of our determination to continue to pray for their discovery.

Also in this Mass we remember some others:
•    Mary McKee, Mother of Kevin, who died before Christmas;
•    We also remember Phyllis Lynskey, Sister-in-Law of Joe, who died last month.
We welcome
•    Sir Kenneth and Lady Elizabeth Bloomfield,
•    Mr Frank Murray, Commissioner for the South
•    Ms Jodie Crowe, and Mr Geoff Kupfner,

We give thanks for their commitment and endurance and we pray that they get the wisdom and the guidance they need to succeed in this holy endeavour

I welcome and commend the commitment of the Commission to continue its work in an effort to alleviate the suffering of those who, so far, have not had the consolation of knowing where the remains of their loved ones can be located. I make my own, the fervent appeal of the Commissioners to those who can offer information about the fate of the disappeared to do so.  We pray that God will give to those people, the courage to overcome their fears and share the information with those who are searching.  We are grateful that the overwhelming concern of the Commission has been, at all times, the wellbeing of you, the families.
As we begin this Holy Week we resolve to stay close to Jesus.  That is where we belong:  at his side.  We recall his suffering and the fact that he suffered and died:  We remember that he did so for love of us.  We try to unite our suffering to his suffering.  But it is so hard to actually offer our own suffering.  

Someone said to me recently – ‘nobody is born alone.  But everybody dies alone.  There may be others present – but nobody can actually accompany us through that mysterious door into the next life, into the fullness of the new life of the next world’.  

That new life begins here in faith.  It grows and develops in hope.  But it will reach perfection only when death will be swept up in the victory of life.  Only when death – the last enemy – is defeated by the victory of Christ the Lord shall we all be transformed and become like the angels.

But Christ has already won that victory for us.  Today people all over the world will carry palm branches.  The palm is the sign of victory.  In some places they carry not palm branches but olive branches – the sign of peace and of close friendship.

Today, as we walk in memory of Christ’s victory, we pray:

Lord, grant that we may be close to you always.