Contemplate the humility of Christ crucified, Pope preaches on Palm Sunday
March 21, 2016
Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square and devoted his homily to the abasement of Christ on the cross.
“The humiliation of Jesus reaches its utmost in the Passion: he is sold for 30 pieces of silver and betrayed by the kiss of a disciple whom he had chosen and called his friend,” the Pope preached. “Nearly all the others flee and abandon him; Peter denies him three times in the courtyard of the temple. Humiliated in his spirit by mockery, insults and spitting, he suffers in his body terrible brutality: the blows, the scourging and the crown of thorns make his face unrecognizable.”
“He also experiences shame and disgraceful condemnation by religious and political authorities: he is made into sin and considered to be unjust,” the Pope continued. “The crowd, who just a little earlier had acclaimed him, now changes their praise into a cry of accusation, even to the point of preferring that a murderer be released in his place. And so the hour of death on the cross arrives, that most painful form of shame reserved for traitors, slaves and the worst kind of criminals.”
The Pope added:
But isolation, defamation and pain are not yet the full extent of his deprivation. To be totally in solidarity with us, he also experiences on the Cross the mysterious abandonment of the Father. In his abandonment, however, he prays and entrusts himself: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Hanging from the wood of the cross, beside derision he now confronts the last temptation: to come down from the Cross, to conquer evil by might and to show the face of a powerful and invincible God. Jesus, however, even here at the height of his annihilation, reveals the true face of God, which is mercy.
“God’s way of acting may seem so far removed from our own, that he was annihilated for our sake, while it seems difficult for us to even forget ourselves a little,” the Pope said. “He comes to save us; we are called to choose his way: the way of service, of giving, of forgetfulness of ourselves. Let us walk this path, pausing in these days to gaze upon the Crucifix; it is the ‘royal seat of God.’”
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