Pope Saint John Paul II’s Last Passion Sunday

(This is the last of Pope Saint John Paul II’s Passion-Palm Sunday homilies, given in 2004, before his own passion and death the following year, when he was unable – for the first time – to celebrate Mass on this Holy Day. Yet he worked in the Lord’s vineyard right up until the end, having Archbishop Leonardo Sandri read out an Angelus address that the Pope had prepared, even if unable to read himself. Pope John Paul loved his flock, young and old, but, like Christ, whose vicar he was, he has not really left us orphans, but is closer to all of us now than he was then, if we have but eyes to see and ears to hear… Editor)

1. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord” (Lk 19: 38).

With these words, the population of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus at his entry into the holy city, acclaiming him as King of Israel. Yet a few days later, the same crowd was to reject him with hostile cries: “Crucify him! Crucify him!” (Lk 23: 21). The Palm Sunday liturgy helps us relive these two moments of the last week in Jesus’ earthly life. It plunges us into that fickle crowd which in a few days veered from joyful enthusiasm to murderous contempt.

2. In the climate of joy veiled in sadness that is a feature of Palm Sunday, we are celebrating the 19th World Youth DayIts theme this year is “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12: 21), the request made to the Apostles by “some Greeks” (Jn 12: 20) who had come to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover.

Before the multitudes who had gathered to listen to him, Christ proclaimed:  “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12: 32). Here, then, is his answer:  all who seek the Son of man will see him in the Feast of Easter as a true Lamb, sacrificed for the world’s salvation.

On the Cross, Jesus died for each one of us. The Cross, therefore, is the greatest and most eloquent sign of his merciful love, the one sign of salvation for every generation and for all humanity…

(To continue reading, follow this link to the Vatican site)