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Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass

By on Sunday, 24 March 2013

Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter's Square (AP)

Pope Francis celebrates Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter's Square (AP)

Pope Francis celebrated his first Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican this morning.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims filled St Peter’s Square for the Mass, which marked the beginning of Holy Week.

In his homily the Pope said that embracing the Cross leads to joy.

He said: “Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad!

“Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person. We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders.”

The Pope also noted that Palm Sunday marked the Church’s 28th World Youth Day. He confirmed publicly that he intends to travel to the World Youth Day event in Rio de Janeiro in July.

Addressing young people in the congregation, he said: “I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil!”

In his Angelus address, which followed the Mass, the Pope prayed that Our Lady of Sorrows would “support especially those who are experiencing difficult situations”. He also noted that it was World Tuberculosis Day and prayed for those suffering from the disease.

Here is the full text of Pope Francis’s Palm Sunday homily:

1. Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul. Now he enters the Holy City!

It is a beautiful scene, full of light, joy, celebration.

At the beginning of Mass, we repeated all this. We waved our palms, our olive branches, we sang “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Antiphon); 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. And here the first word that comes to mind is “joy!” Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! 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! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. 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!

2. But we have to ask: why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! I think of what Benedict XVI said to the cardinals: “You are princes but of a Crucified King”…Jesus says: “I am a King”; but his power is God’s power which confronts the world’s evil and the sin that disfigures man’s face. Jesus takes 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.

Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, which no-one can bring with him, my grandmother would say, no shroud has pockets! Greed for money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! Dear friends, we can all conquer the evil that is in us and in the world: with Christ, with the force of good! Do we feel weak, inadequate, powerless? But God is not looking for powerful means: it is through the Cross that he has conquered evil! We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us: you can do nothing to counter violence, corruption, injustice, your sins! We must never grow accustomed to evil! … And we must not be afraid of sacrifice. Think of a mother or a father: what sacrifices they make! But why? For love! And how do they bear those sacrifices? With joy, because they are made for their loved ones. Christ’s Cross embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy!

3. Today in this Square, there are many young people: for 28 years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: youth! Dear young people, I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! 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.! A young heart! With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves that we have true joy and that God has conquered evil through love. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace.

Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, from today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of Christ’s Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! 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. Young people must tell the world that it is good to follow Jesus, that it is good to love Jesus and that it is good to go out to the preferies of the world and follow Jesus! Three words: Joy, Cross and Youth.

Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. Amen.

Full text of Pope Francis’s Angelus address

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the end of this celebration, we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that she may accompany us during Holy Week.

May she, who followed her Son with faith all the way to Calvary, help us to walk behind him, carrying his Cross with serenity and love, so as to attain the joy of Easter. May Our Lady of Sorrows support especially those who are experiencing difficult situations.

My thoughts turn to the people afflicted with tuberculosis, as today is the World Day against this disease. To Mary I entrust especially you, dear young people, and your path towards Rio de Janeiro.

May all of you have a good journey

  • Fred

    Praise the Lord for Pope Francis, may he always be guided by the Holy Spirit as he lead the Church during his papacy.

  • jjb

    Great message. I’m sorry to see him end with asking us to ask the Virgin Mary for intercession. No where in the bible is this validated.

    “Christ is the only intercessor we need. Through Jesus and Him alone, we have direct access to the Father. Christ alone mediates and intercedes between God and man. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Prayer to anyone other than God alone is anti-biblical. Praying to Mary or petitioning her to pray for us is against the Scriptures. Prayer is an act of worship. When we pray to God, we are admitting that we need His help. Directing our prayers to anyone other than God is robbing God of the glory that is His alone, something God hates and will not tolerate (Isaiah 42:8).

    While Mary was certainly a godly young woman greatly blessed in that she was chosen to bear the Savior of the world, she was not in any way divine, nor was she sinless, nor is she to be worshipped, revered, venerated, or prayed to.”

    Read more:

  • Kieran

    Hi jjb,
    I think you might want to check out the Immaculate Conception and then revisit some aspects of your last paragraph. It might be beneficial to turn to the catechism rather than the link you have published.

  • Hermione England

    Jjb I have often called on the Holy Mother during prayer, Catholics don’t worship Mary, they pray through her, in a simplistic way it’s like asking your Mum to speak to your Dad on your behalf knowing its more likely that she will put your case in such a way that he is likely to agree to do what you ask, if its for your own good. In so far as Mary not being sinless, I can’t imagine God coming into the world through a sinful person, and the bible is not our only source of information. We have sacred tradition to inform us also.

  • Ken B

    With all due respect, the idea of Sola Scriptura, you refer to is in fact nowhere in the Bible. In fact, quite the opposite. In John 25, it says, “But there were also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suposed that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

    It’s kind of interesting the passage you cite. The entire passage asks, in fact, urges, intercession.

  • pickatrick

    The Church depends not only on Scripture but also in tradition. The two do not contradict each other; rather, they embrace each other just as Justice and Peace embrace in the Psalms. Scripture is God’s word, but God also reveals himself everyday and through tradition. And traditionally speaking, the church, the people need a mother, who will intercede for us with her son, and this is very scriptural. All we have to do is look at the wedding at Cana, where Mary tells Jesus “we have no more wine,” and she then says to the servants, “do whatever he tells you.” So, traditionally and scripturally, we need a mother, who will intercede for us with Jesus, who remains the “one mediator between God and men.” Mary also encourages us, in a motherly way, to “do whatever he tells you.” Unless we are so self-confident, we all need such motherly advice.

  • Aaron

    Of course, Psalm 103 has us asking the saints and angels for their intercession…
    Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.

    Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
    Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

  • Lubaski

    The immutable law of God enunciated in the ten commandments explicitly requires that we obey our father and mother. Jesus has a heavenly father and an earthly mother. Jesus was and remains obedient to the call of his father (our God). It is unlikely that he will disobey his mother. Secondly, the bible enjoins us all to pray for one another. Whether it be Mary (our mother) or anyone else. Asking someone to intercede for us does not in any way take the glory that is due to God. It is the worship of another “god”.

  • Heartlander

    The Lord said that “when two or more of you gather in My name,” He would be there with us. When I pray the rosary, I believe that Mary is joining me in prayer — so that even if I am otherwise by myself, Mary’s presence with me makes “two or more of us” united in Jesus’s name, and He is there! The Bible also says (it’s in James’s epistle): “The prayers of a righteous person are powerful in their effect.” No mere human has ever been more righteous than Jesus’s mother, Mary — her prayers for us are powerful indeed!

  • Heartlander

    Have you never asked a Christian friend to pray for you? I consider Jesus’s mother my friend — certainly the holiest friend I have — and I ask her to pray for me, just as I ask my other good Christian friends to pray for me!

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    Mother Mary was everything to me but for some time I kept myself away from her when I turned myself as a brooding Philosopher. And for this I am so sorry. But of course Jesus the Lord comes first.

    I see her intervening in the life of so many people, and that too in different parts of the World, for good.

    Mary the Mother of the Lord was the Centre of action when the Apostles were gathered in the upper Room. She is the best model after Jesus the Lord in responding to God’s plans for us. She is the Queen of the Apostles. During the marriage feast in Cana, she intervened to help so generously.

    Once when one of the Living Apostles in the Church prayed for me, at the end I was told to ask for Mary’s intercession, addressing her as the MYSTICAL ROSE. I keep doing it and keep getting good results.

    The Mother of the Lord is OUR MOTHER, whom THE LORD personally gave to us through St.John, the Beloved of THE LORD.

    Living in different kinds of environments and living and mixing with different kinds of people and age groups with humble and open minds and doing different kinds of Retreats etc. may help us not to be deceived by fixed ideas through which we end up as our own greatest enemies.

    Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

  • NatOns

    Indeed, Fred, God bless our Pope!

    It must be a kind of purgatory for a soul bred in the D-I-Y way of free-wheeling liturgies (almost every priest ordained in the Latin Rite after 1969 CE) simply to say the black and do the red; and it seemed so for our Francis as he tried manfully to master the Pontifical liturgies .. and retain his graced absorption with the Mystery of Christ .. in their much less self-re-constructed style.

    My admiration for his sincere humility – and not the hype-variety, so beloved of the world – only grows apace; we have been truly blessed with many wonderful, saintly, Christ-centred popes over the last few hundred years .. the Holy Ghost has not failed us in this gracious soul.

    “Three words: Joy, Cross and Youth”: for the grace of that birth from above, in water and the Spirit, which blessing alone makes us children of God and ever renewed to take our cross and follow rejoicing, shines in Francis as it did in Benedict XVI (et al) – at any age.

  • waikatoanne

    I have noticed that he reads all the words of the liturgy, even during the consecration. Then it came to me – of course he is used to speaking in Spanish! Even though he is a good Italian speaker, it must still be difficult for him to celebrate Mass in Italian when the rest of his prayer life is obviously in his native tongue.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    Printed or written Word, is dead Word. It needs Interpretation and at times arbitration by Peter’s authority, given him by the Lord Himself.