As is tradition, Pope Francis commenced Holy week by celebrating Palm Sunday Mass. It is in remembrance of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem before His Passion.
Around 50,000 people from across the world attended this important occasion in St. Peter's Square.
During his homily, Pope Francis reflected on how Christ's passion overcomes triumphalism, which tries to achieve its goal by “shortcuts and false compromises.” He also condemned the temptation toward spiritual worldliness that is a great threat to the Church.
“He knows that true triumph involves making room for God and the only way to do that is by stripping oneself, by self-emptying. To remain silent, to pray, to accept humiliation. There is no negotiating with the cross: one either embraces it or rejects it. By His self-abasement, Jesus wanted to open up to us the path of faith and to precede us on that path.”
He added that the first to follow Jesus on the path of faith and obedience to God was the Blessed Mother, Mary. He said responding with faith to to the harsh and painful events of life brings with it “a particular heaviness of heart.” However it is only from night that one sees the “dawn of the resurrection.”
The pope encouraged young people to follow this path of humility and obedience to God, that countless holy men and women have taken to be with Jesus.
“Do not be ashamed to show your enthusiasm for Jesus, to shout out that He is alive and that He is your life. Yet at the same time, do not be afraid to follow Him on the way of the cross. When you hear that He is asking you to renounce yourselves, to let yourselves be stripped of every security, and to entrust yourselves completely to our Father in heaven, then rejoice and exult! You are on the path of the kingdom of God.”
Pope Francis said the silence of Jesus and His rejection of the temptation to answer back like a “superstar” is impressive. He encouraged people to be firm in faith and imitate Christ's meekness of silence, not putting one's hand to the sword; but remembering that the battle is between God and the devil.
After the Mass, the pope began his Angelus by presenting everyone with rosaries made in the Holy Land for Panama's World Youth Day. He asked them to pray for peace.
“I therefore renew my appeal to the young people and to all to pray the Rosary for peace, especially for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East. Now let us turn to the Blessed Mother to help us live Holy Week well.”
He also further encouraged young people to live out daily the indications given in his recent Apostolic Exhortation “Christus vivit.” The text is the outcome of the Youth Synod held last October.