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Love Jesus in all who suffer, pope says on Palm Sunday

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Jesus does not ask that people only contemplate his image, but that they also recognize and love him concretely in all people who suffer like he did, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis carries a cross as he arrives to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis carries a cross as he arrives to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 9. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Jesus is “present in our many brothers and sisters who today endure sufferings like his own. They suffer from slave labor, from family tragedies, from diseases. They suffer from wars and terrorism, from interests that are armed and ready to strike,” the pope said April 9 as he celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass of the Lord’s Passion.

In his noon Angelus address, the pope also decried recent terrorist attacks in Sweden and Egypt, calling on “those who sow terror, violence and death,” including arms’ manufacturers and dealers, to change their ways.

In his prayers for those affected by the attacks, the pope also expressed his deepest condolences to “my dear brother, His Holiness Pope Tawadros, the Coptic church and the entire beloved Egyptian nation,” which the pope was scheduled to visit April 28-29.

At least 15 people were killed and dozens more injured April 9 in an Orthodox church north of Cairo as Coptic Christians gathered for Palm Sunday Mass; the attack in Sweden occurred two days earlier when a truck ran through a crowd outside a busy department store in central Stockholm, killing four and injuring 15 others.

The pope also prayed for all people affected by war, which he called, a “disgrace of humanity.”

Tens of thousands of people carrying palms and olive branches joined the pope during a solemn procession in St. Peter’s Square under a bright, warm sun for the beginning of Holy Week.

The pope, cardinal and bishops were dressed in red vestments, the color of the Passion, and carried large “palmurelli,” bleached and intricately woven and braided palm branches. Hundreds of young people led the procession into St. Peter’s Square and later, youths from Poland handed the World Youth Day cross to young representatives from Panama, where the next international gathering will be held in January in 2019.

In his homily, the pope said that the day’s celebration was “bittersweet.”

“It is joyful and sorrowful at the same time” because the Mass celebrates the Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem as the people and disciples acclaim him as king, and yet, the Gospel gives the account of his passion and death on the cross.

Jesus accepts the hosannas coming from of the crowd, but he “knows full well that they will soon be followed by the cry, ‘Crucify him!’” the pope said.

Jesus “does not ask us to contemplate him only in pictures and photographs or in the videos that circulate on the internet,” but to recognize that he is present in those who suffer today, including “women and men who are cheated, violated in their dignity, discarded.”

“Jesus is in them, in each of them, and, with marred features and broken voice, he asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved,” the pope said.

We have no other Lord but him: Jesus, the humble King of justice, mercy and peace.

Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem as the true Messiah, who is a servant of God and humanity, the pope said. He is not a dreamer peddling illusions, a “new age” prophet or con man; he takes on the sins and sufferings of humanity with his passion.

Jesus never promised honor and success would come to those who follow him, rather, the path to final victory requires picking up the cross and carrying it every day, Pope Francis said.

“Let us ask for the grace to follow Jesus faithfully, not in words but in deeds. Let us also ask for the patience to carry our own cross, not to refuse it or set it aside, but rather, in looking to him, to take it up and to carry it daily,” he said.

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Living Our Faith: Palm Sunday

April 3rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:

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This Palm Sunday, we read the account from the Gospel of Matthew of the entrance of Jesus into

A pilgrim holds a cross made of palm fronds during a Palm Sunday celebration outside a church in Bogota, Colombia, April 13. Also known as Passion Sunday, this first day of Holy Week commemorates Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. (CNS photo/John Vizcaino, Reuters) (April 14, 2014)

A pilgrim holds a cross made of palm fronds during a Palm Sunday celebration outside a church in Bogota, Colombia, April 13. Also known as Passion Sunday, this first day of Holy Week commemorates Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. (CNS photo/John Vizcaino, Reuters) 

Jerusalem.

How does the narrative show Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies?

The cloaks on the ground, the palm branches, the shouts of “Hosanna” indicate Jesus’ kingship and messianic role.

 

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In his passion, Jesus reveals God’s mercy, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Just as the crowds and government officials tried to dodge responsibility for Jesus’ fate after he was arrested, so today too many individuals and countries want someone else to care for refugees fleeing violence and migrants seeking a better life, Pope Francis said.

Preaching about the story of Jesus’ passion and death on Palm Sunday, March 20, the pope said that in addition to betrayal and injustice, Jesus experienced indifference as the crowds who had hailed his entry into Jerusalem, Herod, Pilate and even his own disciples washed their hands of him.

Pope Francis holds palm fronds as he leads a ceremony at the obelisk during Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 20. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis holds palm fronds as he leads a ceremony at the obelisk during Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 20. (CNS/Paul Haring)

“This makes me think of so many people, so many emarginated, so many migrants and refugees for whom many do not want to assume responsibility for their fate,” the pope said in his homily.

Greece and other European countries have been overwhelmed by refugees, particularly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. An agreement between Turkey and the European Union went into effect on Palm Sunday to prevent refugees from attempting dangerous sea crossings from Turkey and to stem the continuing flow of refugees into Europe. Under the agreement, most refugees arriving in Greece will be returned to Turkey. For each refugee returned, one who has not left Turkey should be resettled in the European Union.

Carrying a woven palm branch, known as a “palmurello,” Pope Francis led the Palm Sunday Mass with more than 60,000 people gathered on a warm spring morning in St. Peter’s Square.

Young people from Poland and around the world assisted at the Mass, carrying long palm branches in the procession and proclaiming the Scripture readings. With Krakow, Poland, set to host the international gathering of World Youth Day with Pope Francis in July, the day’s second reading was in Polish.

At the end of Mass, before reciting the Angelus, Pope Francis expressed his hope that in July many young Catholics would converge on Krakow, “homeland of St. John Paul II, who began World Youth Day.”

The Palm Sunday liturgy begins with a commemoration of Jesus entering Jerusalem to acclamations of “Hosanna” from the crowd. In his homily the pope said, “We have made that enthusiasm our own; by waving our olive and palm branches we have expressed our praise and our joy, our desire to receive Jesus who comes to us.”

The commemoration is not just about a historical event, the pope said. “Just as he entered Jerusalem, so he desires to enter our cities and our lives. As he did in the Gospel, riding on a donkey, so too he comes to us in humility.”

Pope Francis prayed that nothing would “prevent us from finding in him the source of our joy, true joy, which abides and brings peace; for it is Jesus alone who saves us from the snares of sin, death, fear and sadness.”

On the cross, at the height of his humiliation, Jesus reveals God’s identity as the God of mercy, Pope Francis said, adding that the cross is God’s “cathedra,” the place from which he teaches people all they need to know about him.

“He forgives those who are crucifying him, he opens the gates of paradise to the repentant thief and he touches the heart of the centurion,” he said.

Jesus’ life and death, the pope said, was a story of how, out of love, he “emptied and humbled” himself to save humanity.

In Holy Week, he said, the first sign of Jesus’ endless love is the scene of him washing the disciples’ feet, “as only servants would have done.”

“He shows us by example that we need to allow his love to reach us, a love which bends down to us,” Pope Francis said. People must accept Jesus’ love, experience his tenderness and give witness to the fact that “true love consists in concrete service.”

“Hanging from the wood of the cross,” the pope said, Jesus faced his last temptation, which was to come down from the cross, “to conquer evil by might and to show the face of a powerful and invincible God.”

Instead, Jesus “takes upon himself all our pain that he may redeem it, bringing light to darkness, life to death, love to hatred,” the pope said.

 

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Imitate Jesus’ humility and service, pope says at Palm Sunday Mass

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — From modern-day martyrs to those who quietly care for the sick or elderly, Pope Francis remembered all those who “sacrifice themselves daily,” following Jesus in serving others and giving witness to the Gospel.

In overcoming the daily temptations of power and pride, the pope said at Palm Sunday Mass, Christians can look to those who, “in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others,” whether that be a sick relative, an elderly person or someone with special needs.

Pope Francis carries palm fronds in procession at the start of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis carries palm fronds in procession at the start of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 29. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

On a bright, sunny day, about 70,000 people carrying palms and olive branches joined Pope Francis March 29 for the Palm Sunday Mass, the solemn beginning of Holy Week.

Dressed in red vestments, the color of the Passion, Pope Francis remembered “our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. There are many of them. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way.”

Some 400 young people led the procession into St. Peter’s Square, carrying glossy, deep green palm branches that were taller than the people carrying them. About 80 cardinals and bishops followed, carrying “palmurelli,” pale green palm branches that were woven and braided.

The heart of the Palm Sunday celebration, the pope said in his homily, is a line from the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself. Jesus’ humiliation.”

Humility and humiliation, he said, is “God’s way and the way of Christians,” even though it “constantly amazes and disturbs us. We will never get used to a humble God.”

However, the pope said, the entire history of salvation is filled with examples of God humbling himself to walk with his people and save them, even when they have been unfaithful to him.

“This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation,” he said. “Only in this way will this week be holy for us, too.”

Pope Francis urged Catholics to pay attention to the Bible readings throughout the week, noticing the contempt shown toward Jesus, the betrayal of Judas, Jesus’ arrest and condemnation, how the disciples run away and how Peter denies knowing him.

“This is God’s way, the way of humility,” he said. “It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.”

The Bible says that in becoming human, Jesus took the form of a slave, the pope noted. Slaves serve others and that is exactly what Jesus did.

“The way of the world” sees humble service as ridiculous and, instead, it proposes “the way of vanity, pride and success,” he said. “The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus, too, during his 40 days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it.”

Pope Francis urged people to draw strength and inspiration for their battle against pride from those who humbly care for others and, especially, from the modern-day martyrs.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis marked the local celebration of World Youth Day and asked Catholic youths around the world to begin now their preparations to celebrate the international World Youth Day with him in Krakow, Poland, in 2016.

“The theme of that large gathering – ‘Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy’ — blends well with the Holy Year of Mercy” that he proclaimed for 2016. “Let yourselves be filled with the Father’s tenderness in order to spread it around you,” the pope said.

He also offered special prayers for the students who were among the victims of the Germanwings airplane crash in the French Alps March 24

 

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During Holy Week, pope asks, which Gospel character do you resemble?

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Preceded by young people and clergy waving tall palm branches, Pope Francis began his Holy Week liturgies by encouraging people to ask themselves which personality in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection they resemble most.

“Where is my heart? Which of these people do I resemble most?” Pope Francis asked April 13 as he celebrated the Palm Sunday Mass of the Lord’s Passion.

Pope Francis carries palms as he walks in procession at the start of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 13. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Joined by thousands of young people for the local celebration of World Youth Day, the pope set aside his prepared homily and instead urged people to adopt an exercise recommended by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits: imagining themselves as one of the characters in the Gospel story.

Throughout the Holy Week liturgies — Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter vigil and Easter morning Mass — “it would do us good to ask one question: Who am I? Who am I before my Lord?” the pope said.

“Am I able to express my joy, to praise him?” the pope asked. “Or do I keep my distance? Who am I before Jesus who is suffering?”

Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. “Am I like Judas?” the pope asked. “Am I a traitor?”

“The disciples didn’t understand anything and they fell asleep while the Lord suffered,” he said. “Is my life one of sleeping?”

When Jesus was about to be arrested, one of the disciples cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant; “am I like that disciple who wanted to resolve everything with the sword?” the pope asked.

“Am I like those courageous women and like Jesus’ mom, who were there suffering in silence?” he asked.

Pope Francis did not offer explanations but asked people to let “these questions accompany us throughout the week.”

Prisoners from a jail in Sanremo, Italy, sent Pope Francis a new pastoral staff, which he used during the Mass. Carved out of olive wood, it featured a simple cross on top and elements from Pope Francis’ coat of arms: the official seal of the Society of Jesus, an eight-pointed star symbolizing Mary and the spikenard flower, a symbol of St. Joseph.

At the end of Mass, turning his attention to the young people, Pope Francis presided over the transfer of the World Youth Day cross from young representatives of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, site of World Youth Day 2013, to youths from the Archdiocese of Krakow, Poland, where the next international gathering with the pope will be held July 25-Aug. 1, 2016.

The hand-off of the cross marked the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s entrusting it to Catholic youths, asking them to “carry it throughout the world as a sign of Christ’s love for humanity,” Pope Francis said. Noting that he would declare Pope John Paul a saint April 27, the pope repeated an announcement made in February that St. John Paul, who began the World Youth Day celebrations, would become the gatherings’ “great patron.”

After the Mass and the recitation of the Angelus, the pope waded into the crowd, blessing many of the young people and posing for photographs with some of them.

 

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Sunday Scripture: The hour has come, how will it change you?

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Readings for April 1, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

Isaiah 50:4-7;  Philippians 2:6-11

Mark 14:1-15:471

 

Palm Sunday and as every year we listen to the Passion of Jesus read at Mass. Do we really hear it? Sometimes I think if we really heard and understood these words we would be tempted to rate it “R” based on the violence and brutality. It certainly wouldn’t be deemed appropriate for children.

And yet we read and listen, sometimes with an air of boredom because it’s so familiar. So let’s take some time this week to reflect deeply on this Gospel message.

In the crucifixion, Jesus was humiliated, shamed, abandoned, betrayed, tortured, and brutalized. We might have experienced some of these situations like humiliation or shame, but the torture and brutalization? This was a time of extreme cruelty, not comparable to what most of us can imagine. Even the Apostles could not imagine what Jesus was saying when he told them he would suffer and die. Jesus tried to warn them, “All of you will have your faith shaken,” but they did not understand. Read more »

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