Vatican City, 24 March 2013 (VIS) — Following is the whole text of Pope Francis’ homily during the Palm Sunday Mass that begins the Holy Week celebrations. The Holy Father commented on the World Youth Day that the entire Church celebrates today, asking that we live the faith “with a young heart.” The pontiff urged the youth to “tell the world that it is good to follow Christ.”
“Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ (Lk 19:38).”
“Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul.”
This is Jesus. This is his heart that looks upon all of us, who sees our sicknesses, our sins. Jesus’ love is great. And so He enters into Jerusalem with this love and looks upon all of us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light — the light of the Jesus’ love, of his heart — joy, and celebration.”
“At the beginning of Mass, we repeated all this. We waved our palms. We also welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God but He lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He enlightens us along the journey. And thus today we have welcomed him.”
“And this is the first word that I want to tell you: ‘Joy!’ Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but it comes from having encountered a Person, Jesus, who is among us. It comes from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! This is the moment when the enemy comes, when the devil, often times dressed as an angel, comes and insidiously tells us his word. Don’t listen to him! Follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world of ours. Please don’t let him steal our hope. Don’t let him steal our hope, that hope that Jesus gives us.”
“The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: He is riding on a donkey; He is not accompanied by a court; He is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk who had the sense to see something more in Jesus; those with a sense of faith that tells them: ‘This is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers. He enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood.”
“And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! I think of what Benedict XVI said to the cardinals, ‘You are princes, but of a crucified King.’ That is Jesus’ throne. Jesus takes it upon himself ….”
“Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including our own sin — all of us — and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, which none of us can take with us, it must be left behind.”
Here the Pope added a personal note: “My grandmother used to tell us children, ‘A shroud has no pockets!’” Then he continued: “Loving money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And also — each of us knows and recognizes — our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation.”
“Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus’ does for all of us upon his throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy! It leads to the joy of being saved and of doing a little of what He did that day of his death.”
“Today in this Square, there are many young people: for 28 years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: Youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession when you entered. I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart,” and here he emphasized, “a young heart, always, even at the age of seventy or eighty, a young heart. With Christ, the heart never grows old!”
“Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves and in going outside of ourselves, that we have true joy and through God’s love He has conquered evil. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: ‘Go, make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace.”
“Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to this coming July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well in your communities — prepare spiritually above all — so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world.”
Then, in an unscripted exhortation, the Pope called out: “Young persons, you must tell the world that it’s good to follow Jesus, that it’s good to go with Jesus. Jesus’ message is good. It’s good to go outside ourselves to the ends of the earth and of existence to bring Jesus! Three words: Joy, Cross, and Youth.”
“Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.”
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