Cross of Christ is the World's Hope
Homily of Pope John Paul II
Given During the 11th World Youth Day
March 31, 1996
1. "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he
who comes in the name of the Lord" (Entrance
Palm Sunday, when the Church recalls Christ's
triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, is a solemn
gateway as it were leading to Holy Week. Looking
at this day from the standpoint of liturgical
spirituality, we can consider it as somehow
present in every Eucharistic celebration. Just
as in its time it was the threshold of the
events of Christ's paschal week, so it continues
as the threshold of the Eucharistic mystery.
Indeed, the very threshold of the liturgy. The
moment we cross this threshold, we approach the
centre of the Mysterium fide).
This Mysterium is "always and everywhere"
celebrated and accomplished by Christ himself,
through the service of the priest, minister of
the Eucharist. Christ himself, the Eternal High
Priest, arrives in Jerusalem to complete his one
sacrifice, the sacrifice of the New Covenant:
first as a sacrament at the Last Supper on Holy
Thursday; then as a redeeming reality on
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
This Week is filled with the sufferings of
2. His coming is a revelation, a radical, total
revelation of God's holiness. "Sanctus, Sanctus,
Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth". "Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth
are full of your glory...".
Precisely this Week which humanly speaking is
filled to the brim with suffering, humiliation,
despoliation, in a word, with the kenosis of God
this Week contains the revelation of God's
holiness, the culmination of world history.
"Holy, Holy, Holy.... Hosanna in the highest".
From the depth of Christ's redemptive
humiliation, man is given the gift of strength
to reach the summit of his own being and
destiny. On this day and in this Week, rightly
called "Holy", the "Hosanna in the highest"
achieves its full meaning.
3. For 11 years World Youth Day has been
celebrated on Palm Sunday. In a certain sense it
could be said that "youth day" began to be such
from the beginning, from the day we are
commemorating today, when the young people of
Jerusalem went out to meet Christ as he entered
the city, meek and humble, riding on an ass,
according to the prophecy of Zechariah (cf. Zec
9:9). They went to greet him and to welcome him
with the words of the psalm: "Blessed is he who
comes in the name of the Lord..." (Ps 117
Christ does not forget. He remembers everything
that happened then. And young people remember
too. Christ is faithful. And young people also
know how to be faithful to whoever puts trust in
This is why young people return, year after
year, to this meeting which arose from their
irrepressible enthusiasm for Jesus and the
Gospel. Thus began a pilgrimage which passes
through the Dioceses of the whole world and,
every two years, comes together in a great
international meeting, building bridges of
brotherhood and hope between continents, peoples
and cultures. It is a journey always in motion,
like life. Like youth.
This year the halfway point, so to speak,
between the unforgettable stop in Manila and
that planned for Paris in August 1997 the young
people's journey once again pauses in the local
Churches, a journey also enriched by the
experience of the European pilgrimage to the
Holy House of Loreto.
The Cross is the word of eternal life
4. Dear young people present today in St Peter's
Square, to you my special greeting! I extend a
warm welcome to all who have come from afar,
particularly to the Filipino young people, who
will shortly hand over the World Youth Day Cross
to their French friends.
To embrace the Cross on this day, to pass it
from hand to hand, is a very eloquent gesture.
It is like saying: Lord, we do not want to stay
with you only at the time of the "Hosannas", but
with your help we want to accompany you on the
way of the Cross as did Mary, your mother and
ours, and the Apostle John. Yes, O Lord, because
"You have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68),
and we have believed that precisely your Cross
is the word of life, of eternal life!
Dear friends, you know well that the Lord does
not mislead us with deceptive mirages of
happiness, but says: "If any man wishes to come
after me, let him ... take up his cross and
follow me" (Mk 8:34). This language is harsh but
sincere, and it contains the basic truth for
life: only love fulfils man and there is no love
without sacrifice. Young people, go and take
this word of life on the highways of the world
which is heading towards the third millennium.
The Cross of Christ is the world's hope.
In the liturgy of Palm Sunday, young people have
a leading role, like the "children of
Jerusalem", who "welcomed Christ the King. They
carried olive branches and loudly praised the
Lord: 'Hosanna in the highest' (Procession
...They welcomed the Lord.
Young people of Rome and the world! Christ is
calling you: welcome him!
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