Pope Francis Celebrates Palm Sunday Mass

Calls on Faithful to Reflect: «Who Am I? Who Am I Before My Lord?»

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An estimated 100,000 pilgrims from all over the world filled St. Peter’s Square for Palm Sunday Mass presided by Pope Francis.

This was his second Palm Sunday Mass as Pope, and the faithful enthusiastically waved palms as Francis entered St. Peter’s Square in his popemobile and greeted those present.

The Holy Father began his homily by discussing Christ’s entry in Jerusalem: “This week begins with the festive procession of olive branches: the whole people welcome Jesus. The children, the young people sing, they praise Jesus.” He continued how this week then moves into the death and resurrection of Jesus and how we have heard the Passion of the Lord during the Gospel.

Francis then asked the faithful: “We will do well to pose just a single question: Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I before Jesus who enters into Jerusalem? Am I capable of expressing my joy, of praising him? Or do I distance myself from him? Who am I before Jesus who suffers?”

The Pontiff then posed another question: “We have heard many names, many names the group of leaders, some priests, some Pharisees, some teachers of the Law, who have decided to kill him. They waited for the opportunity to seize him. Am I like one of them?”

One by one, the Holy Father noted individuals in Jesus’ life, whom Catholics recognize well from the Passion of the Lord, and asked the faithful to examine whether they resemble them.

He mentioned Judas Iscariot first. «We have also heard another name: Judas. 30 pieces of silver. Am I like Judas?» He went on to discuss the disciples, saying they «understood nothing, who slept while the Lord suffered.» Francis added, «Do I sleep through my life?»

Francis continued highlighting negative characteristics which the faithful should not possess.

«Am I like the disciples, who did not understand what it meant to betray Jesus? Am I like that other disciple who wanted to resolve everything with the sword? Am I like them? Am I like Judas, who pretends to lover and kissed the Master to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Am I like the leaders who hastily put together the tribunal and look for false witnesses? Am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I believe that I save the people in this way?»

Francis then turned his attention to Pontius Pilate: “Am I like Pilate? When I see that the situation is difficult, do I wash my hands and not know how to accept my responsibility and let people be condemned, or condemn them myself?”

He next commented on the crowd, saying: “Am I like that crowd that did not know whether it was in a religious meeting, a trial or a circus, and chooses Barabbas? For them it was the same: it was more entertaining to humiliate Jesus.”

Francis discussed the soldiers, asking whether faithful resemble them who “strike the Lord, spit upon him, insult him, have fun humiliating him.”  He also discussed those who had passed in front of the cross and mocked Jesus.

Next, Pope Francis shifted his attention to the positive and to those who the faithful should hope to resemble.

He pointed out Simon of Cyrene’s example: “Am I like the Cyrenian who was returning from work, tired, but who had the good will to help the Lord carry the cross?

<p>The Holy Father lauded the example of the women, asking whether the faithful are courageous like they were. He referred to Mary and her example of “suffering in silence.”  He also drew attention to the two Marys who remained crying and praying at the tomb.

He underscored Joseph’s quiet example, asking: “Am I like Joseph, the hidden disciple, who carried Jesus’ body with love, to put him in the tomb?”

The Holy Father closed by posing another question to be pondered during this Holy Week: “Where is my heart? Which of these people am I like? May this question accompany us this whole week.” (D.C.L.)


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