Palm Sunday: Jesus is neither a purveyor of illusions, nor a 'new age' prophet or an impostor, he is the great patient of human suffering, said the pope
Pope Francis celebrated Palm Sunday with tens of thousands of young people on World Youth Day. "[A]s we joyfully acclaim our King, let us also think of the sufferings that he will have to endure in this week,” he said. “Jesus never promised honour and success. [. . .] He had always warned his friends that [. . .] the final victory would be achieved through the passion and the cross.” He did not ask us to contemplate him “only in pictures and photographs, or in the videos” but in his presence “in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own”. Krakow youth passed the WYD cross to their counterparts from Panama. The pontiff mentioned the recent attacks in Sweden and Egypt.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis delivered his homily at Mass on Palm Sunday in St Peter's Square before 40,000 people, including many youths. In it, he said that Jesus "is no misguided purveyor of illusions, no new age prophet, no imposter. Rather, he is clearly a Messiah who comes in the guise of a servant, the servant of God and of man, and goes to his passion. He is the great ‘patient’, who suffers all the pain of humanity.
This Sunday also marks the 32nd World Youth Day (WYD), celebrated at the diocesan level. Its theme is ‘The Mighty One has done great things for me’, which the pontiff marked yesterday in Rome’s St Mary Major Basilica.
Today’s service began at the obelisk in the middle of the square. The gospel story about Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem was read, and palms and olive branches were blessed. Young people waved them during the procession to the altar in the churchyard.
The Holy Father said, “The Gospel we heard before the procession (cf. Mt 21:1-11) describes Jesus as he comes down from the Mount of Olives on the back of a colt that had never been ridden. It recounts the enthusiasm of the disciples who acclaim the Master with cries of joy, and we can picture in our minds the excitement of the children and young people of the city who joined in the excitement. Jesus himself sees in this joyful welcome an inexorable force willed by God. To the scandalized Pharisees he responds: ‘I tell you that if these were silent, the stones would shout out’ (Lk 19:40).
Palm Sunday is “bittersweet. It is joyful and sorrowful at the same time”. It is a reminder of Jesus’ triumphant entry in Jerusalem and his passion. Thus, Francis noted, “as we joyfully acclaim our King, let us also think of the sufferings that he will have to endure in this week. Let us think of the slanders and insults, the snares and betrayals, the abandonment to an unjust judgment, the blows, the lashes and the crown of thorns… And lastly, the way of the cross leading to the crucifixion.
“He had spoken clearly of this to his disciples: ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’ (Mt 16:24). Jesus never promised honour and success. The Gospels make this clear. He had always warned his friends that this was to be his path, and that the final victory would be achieved through the passion and the cross. All this holds true for us too. Let us ask for the grace to follow Jesus faithfully, not in words but in deeds. Let us also ask for the patience to carry our own cross, not to refuse it or set it aside, but rather, in looking to him, to take it up and to carry it daily.
“This Jesus, who accepts the hosannas of the crowd, knows full well that they will soon be followed by the cry: “Crucify him!” He does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs, or in the videos that circulate on the internet. No. He is present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own: they suffer from slave labour, from family tragedies, from diseases… They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike. Women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded… Jesus is in them, in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved.
“It is not some other Jesus, but the same Jesus who entered Jerusalem amid the waving of palm branches. It is the same Jesus who was nailed to the cross and died between two criminals. We have no other Lord but him: Jesus, the humble King of justice, mercy and peace.”
At the end of service, the pope invited the youth of Krakow and their bishops to hand over the Cross of young people, a symbol of World Youth Day (WYD), to youth representatives from Panama, where the next WYD will be celebrated in January 2019.
The pontiff also expressed his closeness and sorrow for the victims of Friday’s attack in Stockholm (Sweden) and today’s bombing in Tanta (Egypt). He extended his deepest condolences to "brother" Tawadros and the relatives of victims.