Skip to content

Face Masks with Cross BOGO 50% OFF

Benedict XVI's Homily on Palm Sunday

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

"The Cross Is the Authentic Tree of Life"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's homily during the Mass on Palm Sunday, 21st World Day of Youth, whose theme was "Thy Word Is a Lamp to My Feet and a Light to My Path" (Psalm 118[119]:105).

* * *

For 20 years, thanks to Pope John Paul II, Palm Sunday has become in a particular way the Day of Youth, the day that young people around the world go out to meet Christ, wishing to accompany him in their cities and countries so that he will be among us and be able to establish his peace in the world. If we want to go out to encounter Jesus and then walk with him on his way, we must ask: On what path does he wish to guide us? What do we expect from him? What does he expect from us?

To understand what occurred on Palm Sunday and to know what it meant not only for that time but for all times, a detail is important, which became for his disciples the key to understand that event when, after Easter, they recalled those tumultuous days with a new look.

Jesus entered the Holy City riding on a donkey, that is, the animal of simple country people and, moreover, a donkey that did not belong to him, that he had been loaned for this occasion. He did not arrive in a luxurious royal carriage, or on horseback as the world's great, but on a borrowed donkey. John tells us initially that the disciples did not understand this.

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

Only after Passover did they realize that in this way Jesus was fulfilling the prophets' proclamations; he showed that his action derived from the Word of God and led to its fulfillment. They remembered, says John, that one reads in the prophet Zechariah: "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt" (John 12:15; cf. Zechariah 9:9).

To understand the meaning of the prophecy and thus Jesus' action, we must listen to the whole text of Zechariah, who continues saying: "He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth" (9:10).

In this way, the prophet makes three affirmations about the future king.

First, he says he will be a king of the poor, a poor man among the poor and for the poor. Poverty is understood in this case in the sense of the "anawim" of Israel, of those believing and humble souls that we see around Jesus, in the perspective of the first beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount.

One can be materially poor but have a heart full of anxiety for wealth and power, which comes from wealth. The fact that one lives in envy and avarice shows that, in one's heart, one is part of the rich. One wishes to reverse the distribution of goods, but only so that oneself will be in the situation that the rich occupied before. Poverty in Jesus' sense -- in the prophets' sense -- presupposes above all interior freedom from avarice and the will to power.

It is about a much greater reality than a different distribution of goods, which would be limited to the material realm, and which make hearts even harder. Above all, it is about the purification of the heart, thanks to which one recognizes that possession is responsibility before others which, in the sight of God, allows itself to be guided by Jesus who, being rich, became poor for us (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).

Interior freedom presupposes the surmounting of corruption and avarice which at this point devastate the world; this freedom may be found only if God becomes our wealth, it may be found only in the patience of daily renunciations, in which it develops as authentic freedom. On Palm Sunday we acclaim Jesus, the king who points out to us the way to this goal, and we ask him to take us with him on his path.

Second, the prophet shows us that this king will be a king of peace: He will make the chariots of battle and war horses disappear, will cut off the bow and command peace. In the figure of Jesus, this is concretized with the sign of the cross. It is the broken bow, in a certain sense the new, authentic rainbow of God, which unites heaven and earth and builds bridges between continents over the abysses. The new weapon Jesus puts in our hands is the cross, sign of reconciliation, of love that is stronger than death. Every time we make the sign of the cross, we must remember not to respond to an injustice with more injustice, to violence with more violence; we must remember that we can only overcome evil with good, without returning evil for evil.

The prophet's third affirmation is the pre-announcement of universality: The kingdom of the king of peace extends "from sea to sea ... to the ends of the earth." The former promise of land is replaced with a new vision: The space of the messianic king is no longer a specific country, which would be separated from others, and which inevitably would take a position against other countries. His country is the earth, the whole world. Surmounting all limitations, in the multiplicity of cultures, he creates unity.

Penetrating with a glance the clouds of history, we see emerge from afar in the prophecy the network of Eucharistic communities that embraces the whole world, a network of communities that constitute Jesus' "Kingdom of peace" from sea to sea to the ends of the earth. He comes to all cultures and to all parts of the world, everywhere, to the miserable huts and poor peoples, as well as to the splendor of cathedrals. Everywhere, he is the same, the Only One, and in this way, all those gathered in prayer, in communion with him, are also united among themselves in one body. Christ rules making himself our bread and giving himself to us. Thus he builds his Kingdom.

This nexus is made totally clear in another phrase of the Old Testament which characterizes and explains what occurred on Palm Sunday. The crowd acclaimed Jesus: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Mark 11:9; Psalm 117 [118]:25f.). This phrase forms part of the rite of the feast of tents, during which the faithful moved in a circle around the altar, holding in their hands branches of palm, myrtle and willow.

Then the people cried out before Jesus, in whom they saw he who comes in the name of the Lord. In fact, the expression: "He who comes in the name of the Lord," had become the way to designate the Messiah. In Jesus they recognize him who truly comes in the name of the Lord and brings God's presence among them. This cry of hope of Israel, this acclamation to Jesus during his entry into Jerusalem, has with reason become in the Church the acclamation of him, in the Eucharist, who always comes among us in the name of the Lord, uniting the ends of the earth in the peace of God. Given that the Lord is coming, we come out of our exclusivist realities and become part of the great community of all who celebrate this holy sacrament. We enter into his kingdom of peace and acclaim in him, in a certain sense, our brothers and sisters, for whom he comes to create a kingdom of peace in this lacerated world.

The three characteristics proclaimed by the prophet -- poverty, peace, universality -- are summarized in the sign of the cross. Because of this, and rightly so, the cross has become the center of World Youth Day. There was a time -- and it is not totally surmounted -- in which Christianity was rejected precisely because of the cross.

The cross speaks of sacrifice, it was said, the cross is a sign of the negation of life. We, however, want a full life, without restrictions and renunciations. We want to live, we just want to live. We do not let ourselves be limited by precepts and prohibitions -- it was said, and continues to be said -- we want wealth and plentitude. All this seems convincing and attractive; it is the language of the serpent that says to us: "Do not be fearful. Eat calmly from all the trees of the garden!"

Palm Sunday, however, tells us that the authentic great "yes" is, in fact, the cross, that the cross is the authentic tree of life. We do not attain to life by seizing it, but by giving it. Love is the giving of ourselves and, for this reason, is the way of authentic life symbolized by the cross. Today the cross is handed over, which was the center of World Youth Day in Cologne, to a delegation to begin its journey to Sydney, where in the year 2008 the youth of the world want to meet again around Jesus to build with him the kingdom of peace.

Free Online Catholic Classes for Anyone, Anywhere - Click Here

From Cologne to Sydney, a journey across continents and cultures, a journey across a world lacerated and tormented by violence! Symbolically, it is like the journey from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth. It is the journey of him who, with the sign of the cross, gives us peace and makes us bearers of his peace. I thank the youths who will take this cross, in which we can almost touch the mystery of Jesus, on the paths of the world. Let us pray that at the same time he will open our hearts so that, following the cross, we become messengers of his love and peace. Amen.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


The Vatican , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000



Pope, Benedict, Palm Sunday, Lent, Homily

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,717

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

BOGO 50% off Face Mask with Cross

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

To all our readers, Please don't scroll past this.

Deacon Keith Fournier Today, we humbly ask you to defend Catholic Online's independence. 98% of our readers don't give; they simply look the other way. If you donate just $5.00, or whatever you can, Catholic Online could keep thriving for years. Most people donate because Catholic Online is useful. If Catholic Online has given you $5.00 worth of knowledge this year, take a minute to donate. Show the volunteers who bring you reliable, Catholic information that their work matters. If you are one of our rare donors, you have our gratitude and we warmly thank you. Help Now >

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Catholic Online Caskets

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!