During Palm Sunday celebrations, which fell on the 33rd World Youth Day, Pope Francis stressed "the joy that Jesus awakens" in young people and the "anger" and "irritation" it provokes in many, to the point of manipulating the crowds and get them to shout "Crucify him". For the pontiff, “There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing.” The pope was given the document drafted during the pre-synodal meeting on youth.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Christ “died crying out his love for each of us: young and old, saints and sinners,” said Pope Francis in the homily he delivered today during the Mass marking Palm Sunday, in front of about 40,000 people.
Many of those present were young people. Today in fact is the 33rd World Youth Day (WYD) celebrated at the diocesan level, centred on the theme “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Lk 1:30).
During the procession of the Palms, which began at the obelisk in the square, the various representatives of the recent pre-synodal meeting could be seen: Indians, Koreans, Africans waving branches of olive and palm.
In the homily that followed the long narration of the Passion of Jesus according to Mark, Francis referred to "the joy that Jesus awakens" as he enters Jerusalem and the "anger" and "irritation" that it causes in many.
“Jesus enters the city surrounded by his people and by a cacophony of singing and shouting. [. . .]” It is “the cry of those men and women who had followed Jesus because they felt his compassion for their pain and misery [. . .]”.
But “All this joy and praise is a source of unease, scandal and upset for those who consider themselves righteous and ‘faithful’ to the law and its ritual precepts [. . .] How hard it is for those who trust only in themselves, and look down on others, to share in this joy.”
From this opposition comes another cry: “Crucify him!” This “is not spontaneous but already armed with disparagement, slander and false witness. It is the voice of those who twist reality and invent stories for their own benefit, without concern for the good name of others. The cry of those who have no problem in seeking ways to gain power and to silence dissonant voices.”
This is “The cry that comes from ‘spinning’ facts and painting them such that they disfigure the face of Jesus and turn him into a ‘criminal’. It is the voice of those who want to defend their own position, especially by discrediting the defenceless. It is the cry born of the show of self-sufficiency, pride and arrogance, which sees no problem in shouting: ‘Crucify him, crucify him’.”
“And so, the celebration of the people ends up being stifled. Hope is demolished, dreams are killed, joy is suppressed; the heart is shielded and charity grows cold.”
Addressing the young people, the pontiff said: “Dear young people, the joy that Jesus awakens in you is a source of anger and irritation to some, since a joyful young person is hard to manipulate.
“The temptation to silence young people has always existed. The Pharisees themselves rebuke Jesus and ask him to silence them.
“There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.”
The pope concluded the homily with an appeal to young people. “On this Palm Sunday, as we celebrate World Youth Day, we do well to hear Jesus’ answer to all those Pharisees past and present: ‘If these were silent, the very stones would cry out’ (Lk 19:40).”
“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout. It is up to you to opt for Sunday’s ‘Hosanna!’, so as not to fall into Friday’s ‘Crucify him!’ . . . It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out? Please, make that choice, before the stones themselves cry out.”
At the end of the celebration, some young people gave the pope their report of the recent pre-Synodal meeting. A young man from Panama, venue of the 2019 WYD, spoke on their behalf.
The meeting was held in preparation for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops scheduled for October 2018, on the theme ‘Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment’.
Introducing the Angelus, before the final blessing, Francis thanked all the participants and spoke again about the WYD. “Today's World Youth Day,” he said, “which takes place at the diocesan level, is an important step on the path towards the Synod of Bishops on young people in the upcoming month of October, as well as on the path of preparation for World Youth Day that will take place in Panama in January 2019.
“In this journey, we are accompanied by the example and intercession of Mary, the young woman of Nazareth whom God chose as the Mother of her Son. She walks with us and guides the new generations on their pilgrimage of faith and fraternity.”
“May Mary help us all live Holy Week well. From her we can learn inner silence, the gaze of the heart, the loving faith to follow Jesus on the way of the cross, which leads to the joyful light of the Resurrection.”
The pope then thanked Card Lorenzo Baldisseri and the Synod Secretariat for the work they did during the week and then recited the Angelus with all the faithful.