HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD'S PASSION
ST PETER'S SQUARE
13 APRIL 2014
This week begins with the festive procession with olive branches: all the people welcome Jesus. The children, the young people sing, praising Jesus.
But this week proceeds into the mystery of Jesus' death and his resurrection. We've heard the Passion of the Lord. So it'll do us well to ask ourselves one question: Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I before the Jesus who enters Jerusalem amid celebration? Am I able to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I keep a distance? Who am I before the Jesus who suffers?
We've heard many names, many names. The group of rulers, some priests, some Pharisees, the teachers of the law, who decided to kill him. They waited for the chance to apprehend him. Am I one of them?
We've likewise heard another name: Judas. Thirty pieces of silver. Am I like Judas? We've heard other names: the disciples who couldn't understand any of it, who fell asleep while Jesus suffered. Has my life fallen asleep? Or am I like the disciples, who didn't understand what betraying Jesus meant? Like that other disciple who wanted to settle everything with the sword: am I like them? Am I like Judas, who made a show of loving and kissing Jesus, only to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Am I like those rulers who rushed to hold the tribunal and seek false witnesses: am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I believe that I save people with this?
Am I like Pilate? When I see that the situation's tough, I wash my hands and don't know to take my responsibility and I let them condemn – or do I condemn – people?
Am I like that crowd which didn't know whether it was taking part in a religious gathering, a trial or a circus, and chooses Barabbas? For them it's all the same: it was more fun to humiliate Jesus.
Am I like the soldiers who strike the Lord, spit on him, insult him, enjoying themselves by humiliating the Lord?
Am I like the Cyrenian who was coming home from work, was tired, but had the goodwill to help the Lord carry the cross?
Am I like those who went before the Cross and taunted Jesus: "If only he had more courage! Come down from the cross, and we'll believe in Him!" They taunted Jesus....
Am I like those courageous women, and like Jesus' Mamma, who were there, suffering in silence?
Am I like Joseph, the hidden disciple, who carries the body of Jesus with love to give it a tomb?
Am I like the two Marys who remain before the Tomb crying, praying?
Am I like those leaders who went to Pilate the following day to say: "Be on guard – this one said he would rise, so don't let them be fooled again!" and blocked his life, blocked the tomb to defend doctrine, so that life could not come out?
Where is my heart? Which of these people am I like? May this question accompany us all through this week.
[Ed. Note: Homily delivered unscripted – house translation.]