VATICAN – In St. Peter’s Square Pope Francis began the rites of Holy Week with the solemn liturgical celebration of Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord.
The ceremony began with the blessing of the palms and the olive branches placed beside the obelisk in the Square, carried in procession to the entrance of the basilica. The young people of Rome and other diocese took part in the celebration, in relation to the 29th World Youth Day, which this year takes the theme, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven?.
The Pope based his homily on the question, “Who am I, before my Lord? Who am I, before Jesus Who enters Jerusalem on this feast day? Who am I, before Jesus Who suffers?”
“This week, we begin with a celebratory procession with olive branches: all the people welcome Jesus. Children and young people sing in praise of Jesus. ? But this week proceeds in the mystery of Jesus’ death and His resurrection. We have listened to the Passion of the Lord. It will do us good to ask the question, who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I, before Jesus Who enters Jerusalem on this feast day? Am I able to express my joy, to praise Him? Or do I keep my distance? Who am I, before Jesus Who suffers?”
“We have heard many names: the group of leaders, some who are priests, some Pharisees, some doctors of the Law, who had decided to kill Him. They waited for the opportunity to take Him. Am I like one of them?
“We have also heard another name: Judas. Thirty coins. Am I like Judas? We have heard of other names: the disciples who understood nothing, who slept while the Lord suffered. Do I spend my life asleep? Or am I like the disciples, who did not understand what it was to betray Jesus? Like that other disciple who wanted to resolve everything by the sword: am I like them? Am I like Judas, who pretended to love and to kiss the Master in order to deliver Him into the hands of His enemy, to betray Him? Am I a traitor? Am I like those leaders who are quick to judge and seek false witnesses: am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I believe that in so doing I save the people?
“Am I like Pilate, in that when I see that the situation is difficult, I wash my hands of it and do not assume my responsibility and condemn people, or allow them to be condemned? Am I like that crowd that does not know if it is in a religious meeting, a court of judgement or a circus, and chooses Barabas? For them it was all the same: it was more entertaining to humiliate Jesus.
“Am I like the soldiers who strike the Lord, who spit on Him, insult Him, who amuse themselves by humiliating the Lord? Am I like the Cyrenian who returned from work, weary, but who had the good will to help the Lord carry the cross? Am I like those who passed before the Cross and made fun of Jesus: ‘He was so brave! If he comes down from the Cross we will believe in Him!’ Making fun of Jesus?.
“Am I like those brave women, such as the Mother of Jesus, who were there, who suffered in silence? Am I like Joseph, the secret disciple who carried the copy of Jesus with love, to bury him? Am I like the two Marys, who remained before His tomb crying and praying?
“Am I like the leaders who, the following day went to Pilate to say, ‘Look, this man said that he would be resurrected. Careful that this is not another trick’?, and blocked the life, blocked the tomb to defend doctrine, so that life does not come out? Where is my heart? Which of these people do I resemble? May this question accompany us throughout the week?”.