With this invitation to follow Jesus, asking Him to "bring us heaven: the glory of God and peace to mankind," because "there is no peace on earth ', Benedict XVI ended his masterful homily marking Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, celebrated this morning in St Peter's Square. Along with tens of thousands of young people of the diocese of Rome, he also marked the 25th World Youth Day.
The Pope's speech took its cue primarily from the gospel of the blessing of the Palms, which in the liturgy precedes the entrance (the Gospel of the Mass is instead the story of the Passion).
The pope wanted to first comment on the fact that "Jesus was walking in front of everyone going up to Jerusalem" (Luke 19:28). "Being a Christian - said the pope - is a journey, or rather, a pilgrimage, a walk with Jesus Christ. A move in that direction that he has shown us and shows us.
This journey is an ascent, not only geographically (Jesus walked from Jericho to Jerusalem, with an ascent of almost 1000 meters), but "an ascent to the true height of being human. Man can choose a convenient way and avoiding any hardships. He can also descend, into the vulgar. He can sink into the morass of lies and dishonesty. Jesus walks ahead of us, and go upwards. He leads us towards what is great, pure, he leads us to the healthy air of the heights: towards life in truth, towards the courage not to be disturbed by the chatter of prevailing opinions; towards the patience that endures and supports' others. He leads us towards openness to the suffering, the abandoned, towards the loyalty that is on the side of the other even when the situation becomes difficult. He leads us to a willingness to bring help, towards a goodness that can not be disarmed not even by ingratitude. He leads us to love – he leads us to God. "
Benedict XVI explains then the symbol of Jerusalem "the city where the Temple of God stood, whose uniqueness alluded to the uniqueness of God himself. This site therefore primarily announces two things: on one hand it says that God is one in the world, who vastly exceeds all our places and times; He is the God to which all of creation belongs".
The second aspect is the fact that Jesus goes to the sacrifice of the Passover in which "he himself [is] the Lamb", "Jesus knows that his path will go further: it will not end on the cross. He knows that his path will tear away the veil between this world and the world of God that He will ascend to the throne of God to reconcile God and man in his body .... His path leads beyond the top of the Temple Mount to the heights of God himself: this is the great ascent to which he invites all of us. He is always with us on earth and is always already at the side of God, He guides us on earth and beyond earth ".
Walking with Jesus also means "a journey into the "us" of those who want to follow Him. It introduces us into this community. But because the journey to real life, to becoming men and women conformed to the model of the Son of God Jesus Christ is beyond our own strength, this walk is always also a being brought. We are, so to speak, bound by rope to Jesus Christ - with him in the ascent to the heights of God he draws us and sustains us. It is part of following Christ that we allow ourselves to be incorporated into this bond, we accept we can not do make it alone. It is part of this act of humility, to enter into the "we" of the Church, clinging to the rope, the responsibility of the community - not to tear the rope with the obstinacy and conceit. The humble believing with the Church, just like being bound by the rope in the ascent towards God, is an essential condition of discipleship. This being bound together by rope also entails not behaving like masters of the Word of God, not chasing after the wrong idea of emancipation. Humility of 'being-with "is essential to the ascent. Another part of it is that in the Sacraments we allow the Lord once again to take our hand; we let Him purify and invigorate us, we accept the discipline of the ascent, even though we are tired. "
"The cross is part of the ascent to the heights of Jesus Christ - adds the Pope – from the ascent until the height of God himself. As in the affairs of this world great results cannot be achieved without renunciation and hardships ... so the path to life itself, toward the realization of one's humanity is tied to communion with Him who rose up to God through the Cross. Ultimately, the Cross is an expression of what love means: only he who loses himself, finds himself ".
As if to draw conclusions about "pilgrimage" and "discipleship", Benedict XVI clarifies: "Our pilgrimage to follow Christ does not travel towards an earthly city, but the new City of God that is growing in the midst of this world."
To confirm this, the pope recalled his pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year and indeed, he almost seems to invite everyone to undertake one: "The pilgrimage to the earthly Jerusalem ... may be, particularly for we Christians a useful element for that far greater journey. I myself linked three meanings to my pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year. First I thought it could happen to us on this occasion what St. John says at the beginning of his First Letter: What we heard, we can, in some ways, see and touch with our hands (cf. 1 Jn 1:1 ). Faith in Jesus Christ is not an invention of legend. It is based on a story that really happened. This story we can, so to speak, contemplate and touch. It is moving to be close in Nazareth to where the angel appeared to Mary and transmitted to her the task of becoming the Mother of the Redeemer. It is moving to be in Bethlehem at the place where the Word made flesh, came to live among us, put our foot on holy ground where God chose to become man and child. It is moving to climb the steps to Calvary to the place where Jesus died for us on the Cross. And finally stand before the empty tomb, pray where his holy body was placed and where on the third day the resurrection took place. Following the exterior paths of Jesus must help us to walk with greater joy and with a new inner certainty about the path that He has shown us and that is himself. " And he adds: "When we go to the Holy Land as pilgrims, we also go - and this is the second aspect - as messengers of peace, with prayers for peace, with an invitation to everyone to there, whose name includes the word 'peace', everything possible to ensure it can really become a place of peace. So the pilgrimage is at the same time - as the third aspect - an encouragement to Christians to stay in the country of their origins and to engage intensively in it for peace. "
Hence the invitation to pray "in the spirit of the request of the Our Father, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!'. We know that heaven is heaven, a place of glory and peace, for there God's will reigns fully. And we know that earth is not heaven as long as God’s will is not realised on it. Let us therefore welcome Jesus who comes from heaven and pray to Him to help us know and carry out the will of God. That the kingship of God is manifested in the world and so it may be filled with the radiance of peace. Amen”.
During the Angelus, at the end of Mass, Benedict XVI recalled the 25 years of World Youth Day, established by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
"Today - added the pope - I renew that call for this generation, to give testimony with the gentle power and light of truth, so that men and women of the third millennium will not lack the most authentic model: Jesus Christ. I hand this mandate in particular to the 300 delegates International Youth Forum, who came from all over the world, convened by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. "
At the time of the greetings he again emphasized his concern for Jerusalem: "At this moment, our thoughts and our hearts are directed especially to Jerusalem, where the paschal mystery is accomplished. I am deeply saddened by the recent conflict and the tensions that have occurred again in that city, which is spiritual home to Christians, Jews and Muslims, a prophecy and promise of the universal reconciliation that God desires for the whole human family. Peace is a gift that God entrusts to human responsibility, to cultivate it through dialogue and respect for the rights of all, reconciliation and forgiveness. Pray then, so those responsible for the fate of Jerusalem engage with courage on the path of peace and follow it with perseverance. "
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