Benedict XVI presided the Mass for Palm Sunday and the Lord's Passion

Vatican City – On Sunday, April 5, the Holy Father Benedict XVI presided the Mass for Palm Sunday and the Lord's Passion in Saint Peter's Square. Many youth from Rome and other Diocese participated in the event marking the XXIV World Youth Day. In the homily, the Pope reflected on the meaning of the Kingdom of God announced by Christ.

The Pope explained that “St. John, in his Gospel, after the account of the entrance into Jerusalem...first of all reports that among the pilgrims who 'wanted to worship God' during the feast, there were also some Greeks. Let us note the fact that the true objective of these pilgrims was to worship God...The true scope of the pilgrimage must be that of encountering God, to worship him... Dear friends, that is why we are gathered here together: We want to see Jesus.” From the Gospel it is not clear whether there was a meeting between Jesus and those Greeks. “Jesus' gaze reaches far higher: 'If the grain of wheat falls to the ground and does not die, it will remain alone; but if it dies, it will bear much fruit.' This means that right now a more or less brief discussion with a few persons, who will then return home, is not important. As a grain of wheat dead and risen in a totally new way, that goes beyond the limits of the moment, he will go out to meet the world and the Greeks. Through the resurrection Jesus passes beyond the limits of space and time.”

Then, the Risen Lord “goes to the Greeks and speaks with them, he manifests himself to them in such a way that they, the ones who are faraway, draw near and, precisely in their language, in their culture, his word will be carried forward in a new way and understood in a new way -- his kingdom comes,” the Pope said. He then mentioned two essential characteristics of this kingdom: it passes through the Cross and it is universal.

Universality, “catholicity,” “means that no one can posit himself as absolute, his culture, his time and his world. This means that we all welcome each other, renouncing something of ourselves. Universality includes the mystery of the cross -- the overcoming of ourselves, obedience toward the universal word of Jesus Christ in the universal Church. Universality is always an overcoming of ourselves, a renunciation of something that is ours. Universality and the cross go together. Only in this way can peace be created.”

Responding to the Greeks, Jesus “formulates once again the fundamental law of human existence: 'He who loves his life will lose it and he who hates his life in this world will save it for eternal life.' He who wants to have his life for himself, live only for himself, squeeze out everything for himself and exploit all the possibilities -- he is the one who lose his life. It becomes boring and empty. Only in abandoning ourselves, only in the disinterested gift of the 'I' in favor of the 'Thou,' only in the 'Yes' to the greater life, precisely the life of God, our life too becomes full and more spacious. Thus, this fundamental principle that the Lord establishes is, in the final analysis, simply identical with the principle of love...It is this principle of love that defines man's journey, it is once again identical with the mystery of the cross, with the mystery of death and resurrection that we encounter in Christ,” the Pope continued.

In addressing especially the youth, the Holy Father reflected on the fact that “it is not just a simple matter of recognizing a principle, but of living its truth, the truth of the cross and the resurrection.” Therefore, “the great 'Yes' of the decisive moment in our life -- the 'Yes' to the truth that the Lord places before us -- must then be daily re-conquered in the everyday situations...Sacrifice, renunciation, also belongs to an upright life. He who permits himself a life without this ever renewed gift of self, deceives people. There is no successful life without sacrifice.”

Lastly, commenting on Jesus' fear in the face of the power of death, which is mentioned in the Gospel, the Pope recalled how “As a human being, Jesus also felt driven to ask that he be spared the terror of the passion. We too can pray in this way. We too can lament before the Lord like Job, present all our questions that arise in us in the face of the injustice in the world and the problems affect us personally. Before God we must not take refuge in pious phrases, in a world of make-believe...In the end, God's glory, his lordship, his will is always more important and more true than my thoughts and my will. And this is what is essential in our prayer and in our life: understanding this right order of reality, accepting it interiorly; trusting in God and believing that he is doing the right thing; understanding that his will is the truth and is love; understanding that my life will be a good life if I can learn how to conform to this order. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus are the guarantee that we can truly entrust ourselves to God. It is in this way that his kingdom is realized.”

In concluding the homily, the Holy Father recalled that at the end of the Mass, the young people from Australia would give the World Youth Day Cross to the young people of Spain. “When we touch the cross, indeed, when we carry it, we touch the mystery of God, the mystery of Jesus Christ. The mystery that God so loved the world -- us -- that he gave his only-begotten Son for us. We touch the marvelous mystery of God's love, the only truth that is really redemptive. But we also touch the fundamental law, the constitutive norm of our life, that is, that without the 'Yes' of the cross, without walking in communion with Christ day after day, life can never be a success.”

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