By Lydia O’Kane
Thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the celebration of Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday also marks diocesan World Youth Day and young people could be seen waving palms and olive branches as the sun beamed down.
As the “Hosanna” rang out a solemn procession saw Cardinals, priests, and ordinary men and women making their way around the Square. Following the Gospel, which was read by three deacons and recounts Christ’s Passion, Pope Francis in his homily recalled how Jesus in his entry into Jerusalem shows us the way with his humility in the face of triumphalism.
Abandonment and obedience
With this entrance into Holy Week, the Pope explained, “Jesus shows us how to face moments of difficulty and the most insidious of temptations by preserving in our hearts a peace that is neither detachment nor superhuman impassivity, but confident abandonment to the Father and to his saving will, which bestows life and mercy.”
“He shows us this kind of abandonment, Pope Francis said, “by spurning, at every point in his earthly ministry, the temptation to do things his way and not in complete obedience to the Father.”
Humility over triumphalism
Today, too, remarked the Pontiff, “by his entrance into Jerusalem, he shows us the way. For in that event, the evil one, the prince of this world, had a card up his sleeve: the card of triumphalism. Yet, the Lord responded by holding fast to his own way, the way of humility.”
The Pope emphasized that “triumphalism tries to make it to the goal by shortcuts and false compromises… It lives off gestures and words that are not forged in the crucible of the cross; Jesus destroyed triumphalism by his Passion.” "One subtle form of triumphalism is spiritual worldliness, which represents the greatest danger, the most treacherous temptation threatening the Church”, he said, quoting from French Cardinal and Theologian Henri De Lubac.
The power of silence
Pope Francis remarked, that Jesus “knows that true triumph involves making room for God and that the only way to do that is by stripping oneself, by self-emptying. “There is no negotiating with the cross: one either embraces it or rejects it,” said the Pope. By his self-abasement, Jesus wanted to open up to us the path of faith and to precede us on that path.”
Addressing the young people present for this diocesan World Youth Day, the Pontiff told them not to be ashamed to show their enthusiasm for Jesus, to shout out that he is alive and that he is in their lives.
During his Homily, Pope Francis also noted the “profoundly impressive” silence of Jesus throughout his Passion.
The Pope added that, “he also overcomes the temptation to answer back, to act like a “superstar”. Pope Francis said that “in moments of darkness and great tribulation, we need to keep silent, to find the courage not to speak, as long as our silence is meek and not full of anger.” The Pope stressed that “at the hour that God comes forth to fight, we have to let him take over. Our place of safety will be beneath the mantle of the holy Mother of God."