"Being Christian is a path, or better: a pilgrimage, a walk together with Jesus Christ," underlined the Holy Father at Palm Sunday Mass on an extraordinary spring morning in Rome. He said it is in this communion on the path towards Jerusalem that we find our way to the "new City of God."
Tens of thousands of people were in St. Peter's Square to have their palms and olive branches blessed and to join in the celebration of the Mass, marking not only the start of Holy Week but also the 25th World Youth Day.
During his homily, the Holy Father emphasized that being Christian means “considering the way of Jesus Christ as the just way for being men - as that way that leads to the goal, to a fully realized and true humanity."
As Jesus walked up to Jerusalem, so we too walk up towards Heaven, "the new City of God," said the Holy Father. It is Jesus who leads us towards the heavens, towards “what is great, pure, he leads us towards the healthy air of the heights: towards the life according to the truth; towards courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the chattering of the dominant opinions; towards the patience that supports and sustains others."
He leads us to assist the abandoned and suffering, to be faithful and to kindness that is unfailing even when met with ingratitude, said the Pope. "He leads us towards love... towards God."
We walk and we are also carried, added the Pope. Jesus “pulls and sustains us" when we accept that we cannot do it alone. "The humility of 'being with' is essential for the ascent."
Benedict XVI said that another part of the "ascent" is the Cross. As "great results cannot be achieved without renunciation and hard exercise... [likewise] the way towards life, towards the realization of our humanity is tied to the communion with Him who went up to the height of God by way of the Cross."
The Cross, he explained, is “the expression of what love means: only he who loses himself, finds himself."
Summarizing, Pope Benedict XVI said that the story of Christ asks us to "reawaken" to the longing for God and for being truly men, so that we enter into communion with the Church and Jesus Christ to reach the path to Heaven and live the Word of God in faith, hope and love.
"In this way," said the pontiff, "we are on the path towards the definitive Jerusalem and already from then on, in a way, we find ourselves there, in communion with all the Saints of God."