St. Michael's Church

                Pope Francis sermon for Palm Sunday

Posted on 24 March 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I had originally worked with the official text that was released.  The Pope changed his sermon and here is the revised text.  That‘ll teach me!  This is going to be a big challenge for people following his sermons.  He departs from his text a lot.

However, once again he talks about the Devil!  Excellent.

Pope Francis sermon for Palm Sunday:

1. Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk19:38).

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, he has bent down to heal body and soul.

This is Jesus. This is his heart which looks to all of us, which sees to our sicknesses, to our sins. The love of Jesus is great. And thus he enters Jerusalem, with this love, and looks at us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light – the light of the love of Jesus, the love of his heart – of joy, of celebration.

At the beginning of Mass, we too repeatedit. We waved our palms, our olive branches, We too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God, but he lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He illumines our path here. And in this way we have welcomed him today.

He illumines our path here. And in this way we have welcomed him today. And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! [He will explore three words, as he did in the first sermon he gave after his election.] Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! And in this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! [This is FANTASTIC!  The Pope mentioned the Devil, our Enemy, twice in the first two days of his pontificate. Here he mentions the Enemy again.  Clearly this man is intent on making us aware of the spiritual warfare being waged.] Let us follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us.

2. The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. [Zechariah 9:9 - "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass." Abraham rode an ass when he took Isaac for sacrfice to the mountain. Moses rode an ass. Abimelech's 30 sons rode asses as a sign that they were the rulers of 30 cities. David rode an ass and he had Solomon ride an ass as a sign that he was David's successor and then Zadok and Nathan anointed him.  Riding on an ass is in itself a sign of Christ's kingly character.]He is received by humble people, simple folk who have the sense to see something more in Jesus; they have that sense of the faith which says: here is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. [Abraham, as priest, had Isaac, the victim, carry the wood. Christ, carrying the wood, is both sacrificing priest and the sacrifice.] And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is precisely here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! It reminds me of what Benedict XVI said to the Cardinals: you are princes, but of a king crucified. [It is great that he quotes Pope Benedict.] That is the throne of Jesus. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including the sin of all of us, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God.   [sporcizia... when I hear this word now in the context of a papal address I cannot help but to think of Benedict, even before, Card. Ratzinger, decrying the "filth" that there is in the Church.]

Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money that you can’t take with you and have to leave. When we were small, our grandmother used to say: a shroud has no pocket. [excellent image] Love of power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – as each one of us knows and is aware – our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation. Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.

3. Today in this Square, there are many young people: for twenty-eight years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third wordyouth! [He did this three word pattern thing in his first sermon as Pope, to the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel the day after his election.] Dear young people, I saw you in the procession as you were coming in; I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always, a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty. Dear young people. With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves, in emerging from ourselves that we have true joy and that, with his love, God conquered evil. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace. Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, starting today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world. . Young people must say to the world: to follow Christ is good; to go with Christ is good; the message of Christ is good; emerging from ourselves, to the ends of the earth and of existence, to take Jesus there, is good! Three words, then: joy, Cross, young.

We are living out the joy of walking with Jesus, being with Him, carrying his Cross, with love, with a spirit that is always young!

Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. Amen. (E così sia…. May it be so.)



This year Lent begins an on Ash Wednesday, March 5. To help Catholics live our Lent with greater dedication to the Lord Jesus, Pope Francis, as did his predecessors, addressed a Lenten message to the Catholic world.

He chose as his theme the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: “Though rich, Jesus became poor so that by his poverty you might become rich.” Paul is writing to the wealthier churches of the Greek-speaking world to encourage them to share their financial resources with the poor Church of Jerusalem. The pope asks what these words and invitation to gospel poverty mean for us today?

First, God doesn’t reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth. Though equal to the Father, Jesus humbled himself so that he could be like us in all things but sin. In this Jesus shows his extraordinary generosity and love for us. He lived among us to offer forgiveness and to take upon himself the burden of our sins to free us from our misery. He truly is rich in mercy, a mercy he extends to us, not from afar, but by being in our midst as one who serves. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus offers us the privilege to become “brothers and sisters in the firstborn brother.” (Romans 8:20)

What is the only regret we should have? According to the French writer, Léon Bloy, it is in not being a saint! The pope says, “We could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and sisters and brothers of Jesus.”

Paradoxically, “in every time and place, the Father continues to save humankind through the poverty of Christ who makes himself poor in the sacraments, in his word and in his church, which is a people of the poor.”

Consequently, in imitation of Jesus, “we are called to confront the poverty of our sisters and brothers, to touch it, make it our own and take practical steps to alleviate it.”

He then speaks of three types of destitution. Material destitution affects people living in conditions opposed to human dignity, lacking basic rights such as access to food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally. The church offers help through such organizations as Catholic Charities and our own U.S. Catholic Relief Services and many other works of charity.

Beyond meeting basic needs we must struggle to end violations of human dignity, discrimination and all types of abuse in the world. He states, “When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.”

Next there is moral destitution consisting of slavery to vice such as alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography. Then there are people who see no meaning in life or suffer from unjust social conditions including unemployment that takes away their dignity as breadwinners, as well as access to health care.

This is linked to the spiritual destitution of those who turn away from God and reject God’s love. The pope says that God alone can truly save and free us from our inclinations to evil, as those in AA recognize.

What is the antidote to spiritual destitution? The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus which we Christians are called to proclaim, that God forgives sins and gives us the strength to overcome our compulsions to sin because God loves us and calls us to share eternal life with Jesus. This demands a decision to follow Jesus no matter where he leads us. And following Jesus during Lent must include self-denial. He asks, “What can we give up in order to help others by our own poverty, and our willingness to do with less so that we might share with others whose basic needs are not being met.”

Lastly Pope Francis prays that all members of the Church might undertake a fruitful Lenten journey and asks for our prayers.

The Most Rev. Peter A. Rosazza is auxiliary bishop emeritus, archdiocese of Hartford.