Ushering in Holy Week, Pope Francis has given pilgrims advice.
Celebrating Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square this morning, the Pope stressed that when faced with certain types of people, ‘The best remedy is to look at Christ’s Cross and let ourselves be challenged by His final cry.’
Throughout Palm Sunday’s Gospel account, the Pope stressed, the joy that Jesus awakens, for some, a source of anger and irritation.
The Pontiff had begun his homily by remembering Jesus entering Jerusalem, noting the Liturgy invites all faithful to share in the joy and celebration of the people who cry out in praise of their Lord. Yet this joy, he reminded, would eventually fade and “leave a bitter and sorrowful taste” by the end of the account of the Passion.
Turning to those who had these negative reactions, the Pope noted that as some were praising and cheering Christ for His great works, this joy and praise for those who consider themselves righteous and “faithful” to the law and its ritual precepts is a source of unease, scandal and upset.
“How hard it is for the comfortable and the self- righteous to understand the joy and the celebration of God’s mercy! How hard it is for those who trust only in themselves, and look down on others, to share in this joy.”
Another kind of shouting here comes from the fierce cry of those who shout out: ‘Crucify him!’ “It is not spontaneous but already armed with disparagement, slander and false witness.”
“It is the voice of those who twist reality and invent stories for their own benefit, without concern for the good name of others. The cry of those who have no problem in seeking ways to gain power and to silence dissonant voices. The cry that comes from “spinning” facts and painting them such that they disfigure the face of Jesus and turn him into a “criminal”. It is the voice of those who want to defend their own position, especially by discrediting the defenseless. It is the cry born of the show of self-sufficiency, pride and arrogance, which sees no problem in shouting: ‘Crucify him, crucify him.’”
Hence, Francis underscored, the celebration of the people ends up being stifled.
The Best Remedy
“Faced with such people,” the Holy Father recommended, “the best remedy is to look at Christ’s cross and let ourselves be challenged by his final cry.”
Christ, Pope Francis reminded, died crying out his love for each of us: “young and old, saints and sinners, the people of his times and of our own. We have been saved by his cross, and no one can repress the joy of the Gospel; no one, in any situation whatsoever, is far from the Father’s merciful gaze.”
“Looking at the Cross means allowing our priorities, choices and actions to be challenged. It means questioning ourselves about our sensitivity to those experiencing difficulty. Where is our heart focused? Does Jesus Christ continue to be a source of joy and praise in our heart, or does its priorities and concerns make us ashamed to look at sinners, the least and forgotten?”
World Youth Day: Advice to Young People
Going on to address the young people on the occasion of World Youth Day and in Rome for the pre-synod, the Pop told them that “the joy that Jesus awakens in you is a source of anger and irritation to some, since a joyful young person is hard to manipulate.”
But today, he went on to say, a third kind of shouting is possible: “And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He replied, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19: 39-40).
The temptation to silence young people, he said, has always existed, adding that the Pharisees themselves rebuke Jesus and ask him to silence them.
“There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anesthetize them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive.”
On this Palm Sunday, as we celebrate World Youth Day, the Pope said, we must remember to hear Jesus’ answer to all those Pharisees past and present: “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19:40).
“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout. It is up to you to opt for Sunday’s ‘Hosanna!’, so as not to fall into Friday’s “Crucify him!”… It is up to you not to keep quiet. Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: Will you cry out?”
Pope Francis urged them to make this choice and cry out.
Pope’s Palm Sunday Homily: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-palm-sunday-homily-3/