Bookmark and Share

Palm Sunday 1998 & 13th World Youth Day

XIII WYD Message: The Holy Spirit will teach you all things (Jn 14, 26)

Pope St John Paul II's Homily at Mass on Palm Sunday
St Peter's Square, 5th April 1998 - English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Lk 19:38).

Palm Sunday enables us to relive Jesus' entry into Jerusalem shortly before Passover. The Gospel passage presents him to us entering the city surrounded by a festive crowd. We can say that, on that day, Israel's expectations of the Messiah reached their peak. They were expectations fostered by the words of the ancient prophets and confirmed by Jesus of Nazareth through his teaching and, especially, through the signs he performed.

When the Pharisees asked him to silence the crowd, Jesus replied: "If these were silent, the very stones would cry out" (Lk 19:40). He was particularly referring to the walls of the temple in Jerusalem, built for the Messiah's coming and very carefully rebuilt after being destroyed at the time of the deportation to Babylon. Israel had a conscious and vivid memory of the destruction and rebuilding of the temple, and Jesus referred to this awareness when he said: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (Jn 2:19). As the ancient temple of Jerusalem was destroyed and rebuilt, so the new and perfect temple of Jesus' body was to die on the Cross and rise again on the third day (cf. ibid., 2:21-22).

2. However, as he enters Jerusalem, Jesus knows that the rejoicing by some in the crowd is leading him into the heart of the "mysterium" of salvation. He is aware that he is going to his death and will not receive a royal crown, but one of thorns.

The readings for today's celebration are marked by the Messiah's suffering and culminate in the Evangelist Luke's description of it in the Passion account. This unspeakable mystery of pain and love is presented by the prophet Isaiah, considered in a way as the evangelist of the Old Testament, as well as by the responsorial psalm and the refrain sung a few moments ago: "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?". St Paul takes it up again in the Letter to the Philippians, which is the inspiration for the antiphon that will accompany us during the "Triduum Sacrum": "Christ became obedient for us unto death, even death on a cross" (cf. 2:8). At the Easter Vigil we will add: "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name" (Phil 2:9).

Every day during the Eucharistic celebration the Church recalls the Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection — the faithful say after the consecration: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again".

3. For over 10 years Palm Sunday has become an eagerly awaited gathering for the celebration of World Youth Day. The fact that the Church pays special attention to young people on this particular day is in itself very significant. This is not only because 2,000 years ago young people — pueri Hebraeorum — festively accompanied Christ during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but especially because, after 20 centuries of Christian history, young people, led by their perceptiveness and a correct insight, are discovering in the liturgy of Palm Sunday a message uniquely addressed to the them.

Dear young people, today the message of the Cross is offered to you again. You, who will be the adults of the third millennium, are entrusted with this Cross which in a few minutes will be passed from a group of French youths to young people representing Rome and Italy. From Rome to Buenos Aires; from Buenos Aires to Santiago de Compostela; from Santiago de Compostela to Czestochowa; from Jasna Góra to Denver; from Denver to Manila; from Manila to Paris, this Cross has been on pilgrimage with young people from one country to another, from one continent to another. Your choice, young Christians, is clear: to discover in the Cross of Christ the meaning of your life and the source of your missionary enthusiasm.

Starting today, this Cross will go on pilgrimage in the Dioceses of Italy until the World Youth Day of the Year 2000, which will be celebrated here in Rome during the Great Jubilee. Then, with the arrival of the new millennium, it will continue its travels around the world, thus showing that the Cross journeys with young people and young people journey with the Cross.

4. How can we not give thanks to Christ for the exceptional way that young believers have joined forces? At this time I would like to thank all those who have guided young people in this providential activity and have contributed to the great pilgrimage of the Cross along the paths of the world. I am especially thinking, with affection and gratitude, of Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, who died recently. He was present at and presided over many celebrations of World Youth Day. May the Lord shower upon him the heavenly rewards promised to good and faithful servants!

In a few minutes, as the Cross is being symbolically passed from Paris to Rome, allow the Bishop of this city to exclaim with the liturgy: Ave Crux, spes unica! We hail you, O holy Cross! You bring us the One who 20 centuries ago was acclaimed in Jerusalem by other young people and by the crowd: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord".

We all join in this song, repeating: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Yes! Blessed are you, O Christ, who also comes to us today with your message of love and life. And blessed is your holy Cross, from which flows the salvation of the world yesterday, today and forever.

Ave Crux! Praised be Jesus Christ."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Palm Sunday, 5th April 1998 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The action which will soon be repeated in this square has a particular meaning. French young people will hand the great pilgrim Cross over to their Italian brothers and sisters. This Cross will preside over the World Youth Day to be held in Rome during August of the Year 2000.

Cari giovani italiani, questa Croce percorrerà, in una missione itinerante, le vostre città e diocesi; attorno ad essa vi ritroverete per avanzare in un ideale pellegrinaggio verso il Grande Giubileo. Accoglietela nel vostro cuore e nella vostra vita; lasciatevi interpellare dal suo messaggio di morte e risurrezione; diventatene testimoni coscienti e responsabili per i vostri coetanei.

J'adresse un salut cordial à la délégation française, conduite par le Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archevêque de Paris. Avec une joie profonde, je remercie le Seigneur pour la rencontre de Paris, qui fut un moment de grande ferveur, un signe d'espérance et une occasion de vie spirituelle et fraternelle. La célébration de baptêmes, les catéchèses, la contemplation des mystères du Seigneur ont permis aux participants d'approfondir et d'affermir leur foi, pour en être de généreux témoins.

Aujourd'hui, chers jeunes de France, en remettant la Croix de la Journée mondiale aux jeunes romains, vous réalisez un geste significatif. Vous rappelez que la foi au Christ et la communion dans l'Église se réalisent par un échange mutuel et par le témoignage de Celui qui est notre salut, notre espérance et notre bonheur: Jésus de Nazareth. Portez à vos jeunes compatriotes les encouragements et les salutations affectueuses du Pape, qui compte sur vous pour annoncer l'Évangile !

I greet with affection the young people present in Saint Peter's Square today, and all those following this World Youth Day on radio and television. We have watched the Cross being passed from the young people of France to the young people of Italy, in preparation for the next World Youth Day, to be held here in Rome. The Cross of Christ speaks to the young people of today about the true meaning of life and death, of time and eternity. Be witnesses before the world to the grace of Jesus Christ!

Saludo con afecto a los jóvenes de lengua española. Habéis visto cómo los jóvenes franceses han pasado la Cruz a los italianos para el encuentro del año 2000. Llevadla también vosotros como mensaje de amor por todos los caminos del mundo. Tengo presente a la juventud americana, convocada al Encuentro Continental en Santiago de Chile. Os confío a Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Madre y Reina de América, para que este Encuentro sea una ocasión de crecimiento espiritual, de comunicación de valores, de fraternidad y de compromiso en la construcción de la civilización del amor.

Sehr herzlich grüße ich die Jugendlichen aus den deutsch-sprachigen Ländern. Das Kreuz, das Euch überreicht wird, soll Euch Zeichen und Mahnung sein, Euer Leben ganz und gar nach dem verkündeten Wort zu richten, damit die Welt auf Grund Eures echten Zeugnisses glaubt.

Saúdo os jovens de língua portuguesa. Abri os vossos corações à luz do Espírito Santo e levai a Cruz de Cristo fazendo irradiar a sua esperança nos vossos lares e na sociedade. Possa este Dia Mundial da Juventude fortalecer vosso zelo apostólico pela verdadeira felicidade de quantos vos rodeiam, à imagem de Maria, Mãe da Igreja.

Pozdrawiam mlodziez polska obecna tu, na Placu sw. Piotra, a takze wszystkich mlodych w Ojczyznie. Dziekuje wam za udzial w tej wielkiej peregrynacji Krzyza Chrystusowego, jaka sa Swiatowe Dni Mlodziezy. Postepujcie wiernie i odwaznie za tym Krzyzem. Badzcie apostolami nowej ewangelizacji i znakiem nadziei w dzisiejszym swiecie."