Vatican City (AsiaNews) – During “This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be ‘holy’ for us too! [. . .] This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other,” said Pope Francis as he summed up the meaning of Holy Week, when the Church commemorates the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Palm Sunday, which commemorates Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, when he was met by young people who greeted him with palm branches, is also the day World Youth Day is celebrated at the diocesan level.
For this reason, St Peter's Square was packed with faithful, including many young people with long palms or olive branches.
For this occasion, the deacons from the seminary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) provided the services to the Pope and the altar.
Today's celebration began around the obelisk in the middle of the square, where the pope blessed the olive branches.
The faithful, bishops and cardinals headed in procession to the churchyard where the ‘Passion of the Lord’ Mass began because today’s Gospel reading includes a long text of a Passion from the Gospel. This year (Year B), the Passion according to Mark was read.
In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of “Jesus’ humiliation.”
“These words show us God’s way and the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!”
“Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.”
Holy Week underscores “Jesus’ humiliation”, with the betrayals, outrages, torture, and insults that he suffers during the Passion. “Following this path to the full, the Son of God took on the ‘form of a slave’ (cf. Phil 2:7). In the end, humility means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, ‘emptying oneself’, as Scripture says (v. 7). This is the greatest humiliation of all.”
“There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, we too can overcome this temptation, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.”
“In this,” the pope said, “we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person . . .”
The Holy Father also mentioned the life of Christ that the persecuted experience because of their faith. “We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. We can speak of a “cloud of witnesses” (cf. Heb 12:1).
Finally, “Let us set about with determination along this same path, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26). Amen.
Before the end of the Mass and the Angelus, the pope greeted all the young people present. "I urge you,” he said, “to continue on your journey in the dioceses, as well as in the pilgrimage across the continents, which will take you next year to Krakow, the home of Saint John Paul II, founder of World Youth Days. The theme of that great meeting – ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (Mt 5:7)’ – fits in well with the Holy Year of Mercy. Let yourself be filled by the tenderness of the Father, so that you can spread it around you."
Before the Marian prayer, Francis entrusted “to Mary our Mother, the victims of last Tuesday’s crash [of an A320 Airbus plane in the French Alps], who also included a group of German students.”