Pope John Paul II: Humiliation which exalts

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 liturgical year.

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 2:11).

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 world.

We profess, announce and proclaim the mystery of this humiliation which exalts, of this emptying which gives eternal life.

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. 22).

Man, in 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 human rights.

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 Lord."

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 love,

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…