Homily of the Palm Sunday Liturgy, 8 April 1990
1. "Hosanna to the son of David.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord...
Hosanna in the highest" (Mt 21:9).
Today Jesus comes to Jerusalem. And
today is the day which the liturgy recalls a week before Easter.
Today is the day when the crowds surround
Jesus. Among the crowds there are young people. In a special way this is their
day. This day is your day, dear young people—here in St Peter's Square,
and simultaneously in so many other places on earth, where the Church is
celebrating the liturgy of Palm Sunday—as your special feastday.
This is your day. As Bishop of Rome I
go out along with you to meet Christ who comes. "Blessed is he
who comes in the name of the Lord." Together with you—and together with
others your age in every part of the world. I unite myself spiritually as well
to those places where youth day is celebrated on another day during the
Behold, the large crowd extends across nations
and continents! This crowd surrounds Christ as he enters into
Jerusalem, as he goes to an appointment with his "hour", as he draws
near to his Paschal mystery.
2. Only once did Jesus of Nazareth make
his solemn entrance into Jerusalem for Easter. And only once did be
accomplish what the coming days will confirm. But at the same time he has remained
within this coming of his. Once and for all he has inscribed in
humanity's history what St Paul proclaims in today's liturgy.
"Though he was in the form of God,
he did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped at.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on the cross" (Phil 2:6-9).
Jesus Christ—the Son of God, one in substance
with the Father—humbled himself as man... emptied himself as man, accepting
death on the Cross, which, humanly speaking, is the worst sort of shame.
In that emptying, Jesus Christ was exalted above
everything. God himself exalted him and
bound the exaltation of the Son to human and world history.
In him human and world history have a divine
measure. "Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father" (Phil
3. All of us present here in St Peter's Square or
in whatever other place in the world, we who enter with Christ into Jerusalem,
we profess, announce and proclaim Christ's Paschal mystery which is
lasting. It goes on in the Church and, through the Church, in humanity and the
We profess, announce and proclaim the mystery
of this humiliation which exalts, of this emptying which gives eternal
In this mystery—in Christ's Paschal mystery—God
has thoroughly revealed himself. God who is love.
And in this mystery—in Christ's Paschal mystery—man
has been thoroughly revealed. Christ has thoroughly revealed man to man,
and has made man aware of his very high calling (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n.
fact, exists between the borders of humiliation and emptying by
death and the unsuppressible desire for exaltation, dignity and glory.
That is the measure of the human being.
That is the extent of the human being's earthly needs. That is the meaning
of the human being's dignity which cannot be renounced and the basis for all
In the Paschal mystery Christ enters into the
human being's scale. He embraces the full extent of human existence. He
takes it all within himself. He confirms it, and at the same time he
goes beyond it.
When he enters into Jerusalem he keeps an
appointment with his own suffering—and at the same time he keeps an
appointment with the suffering of all human persons—not so much to reveal its
misery as much as its redemptive potential.
When he enters into Jerusalem, he also keeps an
appointment with exaltation which, in him, the Father offers to all
people. "I am the resurrection and the life; anyone who believes in me,
even though he dies, will live" (Jn 11:25).
4. Therefore, in this way let us enter with
Christ into Jerusalem. "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
By walking together with him, we are the Church which
speaks in the languages of so many peoples, nations, cultures and generations,
In fact, in all languages she announces the very mystery of Jesus Christ: the
Paschal mystery. The measure of man is encapsulated in this mystery in a special
way. In this mystery the measure of man is imbued with divine power—by
the greatest of all powers, which is
We all carry Christ within us, Christ who is
"the vine" (cf. Jn 15:5) from which human and world history germinate.
Christ who is the endless leaven of new life in God.
Blessed is he who comes…