VATICAN City, March 24, 2013—True joy comes not from amassing worldly possessions but from encountering the person of Christ, the Holy Father said during the Palm Sunday celebration at St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis, in his homily on Palm Sunday urged the faithful not to give in to discouragement but instead be men and women of “joy”.
“Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, 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!” the pope said.
Pope Francis ushered the beginning of the Holy Week blessing palm fronds and olive branches on the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy Father dwelt on three important points in his homily: Joy, Cross and Youth.
He said the entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem amid shouts of joy “has awakened great hopes in the hearts” of the least and forgotten in society.
Jesus understands the sufferings of human beings, the pope said, and “he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul.”
“At the beginning of Mass, we repeated all this,” Pope Francis said. “We waved our palms, our olive branches, we sang ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord’; we too 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 humbled himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. Here, he enlightens us on the journey.”
But even as we accompany and follow Jesus, it is him who first “accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders,” said the pope.
He urged everyone to be steadfast in their hopes and share the “joy of the faith” to all.
“This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world of ours. Let us bring the joy of the faith to everyone! Let us not be robbed of hope!”
The pope said Jesus did not enter Jerusalem to receive honors reserved to earthly kings but to embrace the Cross that lead to Calvary.
In embracing the Cross, Jesus has taken “upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including our own sin, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God,” the pontiff said.
Reflecting on the presence of evil in the world, the pope noted how “greed for money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation,” have brought so much destruction on humanity.
But by embracing the Cross with love, Jesus had conquered all evil, and “this is the good that Christ brings to all of us from the Cross, his throne,” said the pope, stressing that the Cross when “embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy!”
Pope Francis also called on young people to continue living and sharing the faith with the dynamism of youth.
“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, always, even at the age of seventy or eighty,” the pontiff said.
Announcing that he is also setting out on the same journey his predecessors had been, Pope Francis urged the youth to prepare spiritually for the upcoming world youth day celebration.
“I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world,” the pope said.
Palm Sunday has traditionally been celebrated as World Youth Day, since it was first instituted 28 years ago by Blessed John Paul II.
But every three years a worldwide celebration is held with a particular country as host venue.
In July this year, the World Youth Day will be celebrated at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. (CBCPNews)