Homily of the Palm Sunday Liturgy, 12 April
1. "I will tell of your name to my
brethren" (Ps 22 :22).
On this day the words of the Psalm are fulfilled.
All Jerusalem resounds with the glory of the name of God—the name of God, the
One who brought his people out of the land of Egypt, from slavery.
This people awaits the new coming of God. In
Jesus of Nazareth it finds the confirmation of its expectations. When Christ draws
near to Jerusalem, going up as a pilgrim with the others for the feast of the
Passover, he is welcomed as he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Exultantly the people sing "Hosanna".
Everyone had read exactly the signs in which the
Prophets' tidings were fulfilled. Even the sign of the king who would arrive
"riding on an ass" (cf. Zec 9:9) had been foretold.
2. But the insight shared by the crowd has
its limits. He who, in the words of the Psalmist, comes "to tell of God's
name to his brethren" is, at the same time—in the Psalm—the one
who is forsaken, mocked, chastised.
"All who see me mock at me,
they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
'He committed his cause to the Lord, let him deliver him,
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’" (Ps 22 :7-8).
And he says of himself, as if speaking to himself:
"They have pierced my hands and feet
—I can count all my bones...
they divide my garments among them,
and for my raiment they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, be not far off!
O you, my help, hasten to my aid!" (Ps 22 :16-19).
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (ibid., 2).
Astonishing prophecy! Through these words we are
already present at Golgotha, sharing in Christ's agony on the cross. These very
words of the Psalmist will be on his lips in the hour of his agony.
who came to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, completely understood
the truth contained in the psalms and the Prophets. This was the truth about
himself. He came to fulfil this truth to the utmost.
3. Through what happens on Palm Sunday there is
opened for us a way to look upon the events shortly to follow, when this full
truth about the Christ-Messiah will be made complete.
"though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing
to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,... humbled
himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a
cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the
name which is above every name... Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father" (Phil 2:6-9, 11).
4. This is the Truth of God contained
in the events of this Holy Week of Passover. These events have a human
dimension. They belong to human history. But this man "truly... was the Son
of God" (Mt 27:54). The human events reveal the inscrutable mystery of
God. This is the mystery of the Love that saves.
When Christ, after his resurrection, says to the
Apostles: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel" (Mk 16:15)—in
that moment he will give them the command to preach this very mystery,
the fulness of which was achieved in the events of the Passover in
same words of the Redeemer of the world are addressed today to all the young
people of Rome and of the whole Church. They become the
guiding principle of this year's World Youth Day.
Dear young people, you must accept the saving
truth of the Gospel, just as once the sons and daughters of the Holy City
accepted the truth about the Son of David "who comes in the name of the
Lord". Today you must accept this saving truth about Christ
crucified and risen and, living it profoundly, strive to reach the heart of the
world of our day.
"Go into all the world and preach the
Gospel" (Mk 16:15): this is the charge which comes to you from
Christ himself. You have reflected and prayed about this commitment, which is
the theme of the Seventh World Youth Day. It is a commitment which involves each
of you personally. Everyone who has been baptized is called by Christ to become
an apostle in his or her own surroundings and in the world.
What will your answer be?
May each of you make his own the words of the
"I will tell of your name to my brethren
In no other name under heaven is there salvation
(cf. Acts 4:12).