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Palm Sunday 2001 & 16th World Youth Day

XVI WYD Message: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9, 23)

Pope St John Paul II's Homily at Mass on Palm Sunday
St Peter's Square, 8 April 2001 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "Hosanna!", "Crucify him!". The significance of the two events we are recalling at this Sunday's liturgy could be summed up in these words, probably shouted by the same crowd in the space of a few days.

With the acclamation "Blessed is he who comes!", in a burst of enthusiasm, the people of Jerusalem waved palm branches and greeted Jesus as he entered the city riding on an ass. With the words:  "Crucify him!", shouted twice in a crescendo of fury, the multitude clamoured for the Roman governor to condemn the accused as he stood silently in the Praetorium.

Our celebration therefore begins with a "Hosanna!" and ends with a "Crucify him!". The palm of triumph and the cross of the Passion:  this is not a contradiction; rather, it is the heart of the mystery that we want to proclaim. Jesus gave himself up voluntarily to the Passion; he was not crushed by forces greater than himself. He freely faced crucifixion and in death was triumphant.

By searching the Father's will, he realized that his "hour" had come and he accepted it with the free obedience of the Son and with infinite love for human beings:  "When Jesus knew that this hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (Jn 13: 1).

2. Today we look at Jesus who is nearing the end of his life and is presented as the Messiah long awaited by the people, sent by God in his name to bring peace and salvation, although in a different way from what contemporaries were expecting.

Jesus' work of salvation and liberation continues down the centuries. That is why the Church, which firmly believes him to be present, even if invisibly, never tires of acclaiming him in her praise and adoration. Our assembly therefore proclaims once again:  "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!".

3. The reading of the Gospel passage has set before our eyes the terrible scenes of Jesus' Passion:  his physical and moral suffering, Judas' kiss, the disciples' desertion, the trial before Pilate, the insults and scorn, the condemnation, the sorrowful way, the crucifixion. Finally, the most mysterious suffering:  "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?". A loud cry, then death.
Why all this? The beginning of the Eucharistic prayer will give us the answer:  "Though he was sinless, he suffered willingly for sinners. Though innocent, he accepted death to save the guilty. By his dying he has destroyed our sins. By his rising he has raised us up to holiness of life" (Preface).
Our celebration thus expresses gratitude and love to the One who sacrificed himself for us, to the Servant of God who, as the prophet said, was not rebellious, did not turn backwards, gave his back to the smiters and did not hide his face from shame and spitting (cf. Is 50: 4-7).

4. However, in reading the account of the Passion, the Church does not only consider Jesus' sufferings; she approaches this mystery, trembling yet confident, knowing that her Lord is risen. The light of Easter reveals the great teaching contained in the Passion:  life is affirmed through the sincere gift of self to the point of suffering death for others, for the Other.

Jesus did not understand his earthly existence as a search for power, as a race for success or a career, as a desire to dominate others. On the contrary, he gave up the privileges of his equality with God, took the form of a servant, became like men and was obedient to the Father's plan unto death on the cross. Thus he left his disciples and the Church a valuable lesson:  "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (Jn 12: 24).

5. For some years now Palm Sunday has become World Youth Day, your Day, dear young people who have come here from the various parishes of the Diocese of Rome and from other parts of the world:  together with you, I also greet with affection and hope your peers who today, in the various local Churches, are celebrating the 16th World Youth Day, the first of the new millennium.

I particularly greet the young people of the Canadian Delegation, led by Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto, who are here with us to receive the Cross around which all the young people from every continent will gather on the next World Youth Day in 2002. Once again I forcefully point out to each and every one the Cross of Christ as the path of life and salvation, the way that leads to the palm of triumph on the day of resurrection.

What do we see on the Cross standing before us, which for 2,000 years the world has not ceased to question and the Church to contemplate? We see Jesus, the Son of God who became man in order to restore man to God. He who is without sin is now crucified before us. He is free, despite being nailed to the wood. He is innocent, even under the inscription stating the reason for his sentence. None of his bones were broken (cf. Ps 34: 21), because he is the supporting column of a new world. His tunic was not torn (cf. Jn 19: 24), because the body of the Lord of life, who conquered death, cannot undergo corruption.

6. Dear young people, Jesus died and is risen; he now lives for ever! He gave his life. But no one took it from him; he gave it "for us" (Jn 10: 18). Life came to us through his cross. Through his death and resurrection the Gospel triumphed and the Church was born.

As we confidently enter the new century and the new millennium, dear young people, the Pope repeats to you the words of the Apostle Paul:  "If we have died with Jesus, we shall also live with him; if we endure, we shall also reign with him" (2 Tm 2: 11). For Jesus alone is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (cf. Jn 14: 6).

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The Apostle has also given us the answer:  "I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8: 38-39).

Praise and glory to you, O Christ, Word of God, Saviour of the world!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Angelus in St Peter's Square
Palm Sunday, 8th April 2001 - in English, German, Italian & Spanish

"As is now our happy tradition, in a few moments Italian young people will hand over the Youth Day Cross to their Canadian peers, who will host the 17th World Youth Day in their country during the summer of next year. Its theme will be: "You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world" (Mt 5: 13-14). Once again the Cross continues its pilgrimage on the highways of the world with the young generations, who enter the new millennium carrying and following the sign of Christ who died and rose again, the victor over evil and death.

I greet the young Canadians present, led by the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Ambrozic, and to them I entrust the Cross. I encourage you to prepare well for the next important appointment of World Youth Day, which has as its theme "You are the salt of the earth .. you are the light of the world" (Mt 5:13-14). Dear young people, get ready to welcome the young people of the world to your beautiful country by renewing your own fidelity to Christ the Lord. Fidelity to Christ, this is my invitation to all the English-speaking pilgrims. Until we meet in Toronto!

Je salue affectueusement les pèlerins français qui ont participé à la Liturgie du dimanche des Rameaux, et de manière toute spéciale les jeunes du Canada. Chers jeunes, que la préparation des dix-septièmes Journées mondiales de la Jeunesse soit une occasion propice pour un approfondissement de votre foi et de votre vie avec le Christ, ainsi que pour un témoignage renouvelé de votre charité et de la joyeuse ouverture de votre cœur aux dimensions du monde ! Ma prière vous accompagne, avec mon affectueuse Bénédiction apostolique.

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die deutschsprachigen Pilger, besonders an die jungen Christen. Liebe junge Freunde! Ihr habt heute morgen dem Herrn das "Hosianna" gesungen. Macht Jesus Christus zu eurem Wegbegleiter und laßt euch von ihm zum Weltjugendtag führen, der im Sommer nächsten Jahres in Toronto stattfinden wird. Wenn ihr euch am Gekreuzigten und Auferstandenen orientiert, dann steht euer Leben unter einem guten Stern.

"Vosotros sois la sal de la tierra... Vosotros sois la luz del mundo". Con estas palabras, lema de la próxima Jornada Mundial de la Juventud en Toronto, me dirijo a todos los jóvenes de lengua española. Llevad este anuncio gozoso y al mismo tiempo exigente, a todos vuestros compañeros. Contáis con mi oración y cercanía en esta gran aventura de la evangelización.

Queridos jovens de língua portuguesa, testemunhas da entrega da cruz das Jornadas da Juventude aos vossos coetâneos do Canadá, a minha cordial saudação para vós, vossas famílias e grupos eclesiais, a todos desejando uma grande solidariedade de coração e vida junto da cruz de tantos crucificados.

"Wy jesteście solą ziemi... wy jesteście światłem świata" (Mt 5,13-14). Oto wyzwanie, które Chrystus kieruje do młodych na progu nowego tysiąclecia wiary. Za rok będzie ono tematem XVII Światowego Dnia Młodych, który odbędzie się w Toronto, w Kanadzie. W duchu wiary przekazujemy dzisiaj Krzyż Roku Świętego, Roku Odkupienia, obecnym tu młodym kanadyjczykom, którym przewodzi Ksiądz Kardynał Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic. Niech ten krzyż będzie dla Was umocnieniem w wierze i przewodnikiem w przygotowaniach Waszego Święta. Życzę, aby Ziemia kanadyjska stała się miejscem odrodzenia serc wielu młodych, tak aby stali się oni solą dla ziemi i światłem dla świata.

May the Cross that we are handing over today to the young people from Toronto also be a light for you on your way through life. On this occasion, I recall the World Youth Day at Jasna Góra in Czestochowa, which marked a turning point. I ask you always to keep alive that great event experienced years ago, and at the same time to keep on moving towards the future, just as the World Youth Days move from one place to another, from one country to another, from one continent to another, from the second to the third millennium. God bless you!"

Pope Saint John Paul II's words at the General Audience
Wednesday 11 April 2001 - in English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. We are on the eve of the Easter Triduum, already immersed in the spiritual atmosphere of Holy Week. From tomorrow until Sunday we will be living the central days of the liturgy, which present to us, once again, the mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord. In their homilies, the Fathers often mention these days which - as St Athanasius observes - bring us to "a new beginning, the announcement of the blessed Passover, in which the Lord was sacrificed". Thus he describes the period in which we are living in his Easter Letters (Letter 5, 1-2; PG 26). Next Sunday the Easter Preface will make us sing with full voice that "Christ's Resurrection is our rising to life".

At the heart of this sacred Triduum is the "mystery of love without limit", that is, the mystery of Jesus who "having loved his own who were in the world ... loved them to the end" (Jn 13, 1). I presented this overwhelming and sweet mystery to priests in the letter I sent them, as I do every year, for Holy Thursday.

I also invite you to reflect on this same love, to prepare worthily to relive the last stages of Jesus' earthly life. Tomorrow we will enter the Upper Room to receive the extraordinary gift of the Eucharist, the priesthood and the new commandment. On Good Friday we will take the sorrowful way that leads to Calvary, where Christ will complete his sacrifice. On Holy Saturday we will wait in silence to enter the solemn Easter Vigil.

2. "He loved them to the end". The words of the Evangelist John express and describe in a particular way the liturgy of tomorrow, Holy Thursday, contained in the Chrism Mass of the morning and in the Evening Mass in Cena Domini, which opens the Holy Triduum.

The Eucharist is an eloquent sign of this total, free and gratuitous love, and offers each person the joy of the presence of the One who enables us too to love "to the end" in imitation of him. The love that Jesus proposes to his disciples is demanding.

At our meeting, we heard once again the echo of the words of
the Evangelist Matthew:  "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven" (Mt 5, 11-12). Today, too, loving "to the end" means being prepared to face labours and difficulties in Christ's name. It means fearing neither insults nor persecutions, and being willing to "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Mt 5, 44). All this is a gift of Christ, who has offered himself for every human being as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the Cross.

3. "He loved them to the end". From the Upper Room to Golgotha: our reflection takes us to Calvary, where we contemplate a love whose fulfilment is the gift of life. The Cross is the clear sign of this mystery but at the same time, for this very reason, it becomes a symbol that challenges and troubles consciences. When next Friday we celebrate the Lord's Passion and take part in the Via Crucis, we will not be able to forget the power of this love which is given without measure.

In the Apostolic Letter at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I wrote:  "In contemplating Christ's face, we confront the most paradoxical aspect of his mystery, as it emerges in his last hour, on the Cross. The mystery within the mystery, before which we cannot but prostrate ourselves in adoration" (Novo millennio ineunte, 25). This is the most fitting attitude with which to prepare ourselves for living the day that commemorates the Passion, Crucifixion and Death of Christ.

4. "He loved them to the end". Sacrificed for us on the Cross, Jesus is raised and becomes the first-fruits of the new creation. We will spend Holy Saturday in silent expectation of the encounter with the Risen One, meditating on the words of the Apostle Paul:  "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Cor 15, 3-4). This is the best way to prepare ourselves for the solemn Easter Vigil, when the brilliant light of the risen Christ will shine out in the heart of the night.

On this last stretch of our penitential journey, may we be accompanied by Mary, the Virgin who remained ever faithful beside the Son, especially during the days of the Passion. May she teach us to love "to the end" following in the footsteps of Jesus, who saved the world through his death and his resurrection."


"I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present, especially those from Norway, Sweden and the United States. I invite all of you to intensify your prayer during these holy days, and upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Saviour.  Happy Easter!

Je suis heureux d’accueillir les francophones présents ce matin, particulièrement les élèves des écoles Notre-Dame de Valenciennes et Mongré de Villefranche et leurs accompagnateurs, ainsi que les jeunes venus célébrer la Semaine sainte à Rome. Puisse votre séjour affermir votre foi et faire de vous des témoins de l’Évangile ! Avec la Bénédiction apostolique.

Mit diesen Gedanken grüße ich die Pilger und Besucher, die aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache nach Rom gekommen sind. Ich grüße besonders herzlich die Jubilarinnen der Armen Schulschwestern von Unserer Lieben Frau und die Behindertengruppe des Malteser Hilfsdienstes aus Köln. Euch, Euren Angehörigen daheim und allen, die mit uns über Radio Vatikan und das Fernsehen verbunden sind, erteile ich gern den Apostolischen Segen.

Amados peregrinos de língua portuguesa, sede bem-vindos! A todos saúdo afectuosamente, com menção particular dos elementos da «Escola Superior de Enfermagem» e da «Santa Casa da Misericórdia» de Chaves, e dos peregrinos de Leça da Palmeira. Seja vossa companheira e modelo de vida a Virgem Maria, que permaneceu ao pé da cruz de Jesus, amando também Ela «até ao fim». «Quem ama, passou da morte à vida», é o amor que faz a Páscoa. Uma santa Páscoa para todos, com a minha Bênção Apostólica!

Quiero saludar ahora a los fieles de lengua española, en particular a los diversos grupos de estudiantes de España, al grupo de niños de Caracas, así como a los demás peregrinos españoles y latinoamericanos. Que la Virgen María nos enseñe a amar "hasta el extremo" y a seguir fielmente a Cristo, nuestro Salvador. A todos os deseo: ¡Feliz Pascua de Resurrección! Muchas gracias.

Srdačnim riječima dobrodošlice obraćam se vama, dragi hodočasnici iz Splita, Zagreba i drugih hrvatskih mjesta.

Zarko zelim da Sveto Vazmeno Trodnevlje Muke i Uskrsnuća Gospodnjega, koje će početi sutra uvečer, za svakoga bude vrijeme posebne milosti i rasta u vjeri, ufanju i ljubavi. Svima od srca udjeljem apostolski blagoslov.

Hvaljen Isus i Marija!

Iš širdies sveikinu piligrimus lietuvius!
Kristaus Kančios Savaitė - tai brangus maldos ir atgailos laikotarpis, kuris mus veda  i nuoširdesni gyvenimą pagal Evangeliją. Tinkamai išgyvenkime šią malonės akimirką!
Visus jus laiminu.
Garbė Jėzui Kristui!

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar híveket, különösen azokat, akik Budapestrôl érkeztek. Isten hozott Benneteket!
A húsvéti szent három nap ünneplése legyen számunkra új erô forrása.
Szívbôl adom apostoli áldásomat Mindannyiotokra.
Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!

Rivolgo ora un caro saluto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana. In particolare, all'Associazione culturale "Il Giulianese" di Giulianello, impegnata nel mantenere vive le tradizioni religiose anche mediante il canto della "Passione del Signore", e agli studenti di diverse Scuole, tra le quali l'Istituto "Novelli" di Velletri e il liceo "Vallone" di Galatina. Auspico cordialmente che questa Settimana Santa sia per tutti una provvida occasione per rafforzare la propria fede in Cristo crocifisso e risorto.

Saluto, poi, cordialmente i giovani, i malati e gli sposi novelli. Domani entreremo nel Sacro Triduo che ci farà rivivere i misteri centrali della nostra salvezza. Invito voi, cari giovani, a guardare alla Croce e trarre da essa luce per camminare fedelmente sulle orme del Redentore. Auguro che per voi, cari malati, la Passione del Signore, culminante nel trionfo glorioso della Pasqua, costituisca la sorgente di speranza e di conforto nei momenti della prova. E voi, cari sposi novelli, disponete i vostri cuori a celebrare con profonda partecipazione il Mistero pasquale, per fare della vostra esistenza un dono reciproco, aperto all'amore fecondo di bene.

Con tali sentimenti, imparto a tutti una speciale Benedizione Apostolica."