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Pope's Palm Sunday message: Find joy in the Cross

CWN - March 25, 2013

Celebrating Mass on Palm Sunday for a huge congregation estimated at 250,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis exhorted the faithful: “Never give way to discouragement!”

In his homily the Pope spoke of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which had been recalled in the procession with palms before the Mass. “Jesus has awakened great hopes,” he said, “especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world.” Being a disciple of Jesus means being hopeful and joyful, the Pope said. “A Christian can never be sad!”

At the same time, the Pope reminded his congregation, Jesus was entering Jerusalem to face death. The Cross is the reality of Christian sacrifice, he said, and Christians must embrace it, being prepared to die to themselves and rid themselves of attachment to sin. He quoted a saying of his grandmother, that “a shroud has no pockets.” He explained that she was referring to the need to purge the “love of money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation.” Nevertheless, the Holy Father insisted, “Christ’s Cross embraced with love does not lead to sadness, but to joy!”

Finally the Pope reminded his congregation that Palm Sunday has been observed for the past 28 years as World Youth Day, and that many thousands of young Catholics are now preparing for the international celebration of World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July. “Young persons, you must tell the world that it's good to follow Jesus, that it's good to go with Jesus,” he said. After the Mass, at his Angelus audience, the Pope encouraged the faithful to seek the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to accompany the Church through Holy Week.

The Pope closed his midday audience with a message to young people preparing to attend the World Youth Day celebrations in Rio. “Prepare your hearts spiritually,” he said. “May all of you have a good journey!”

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