Only by denial and self sacrifice does life have meaning, Pope preaches

.- Yesterday people from around the world descended upon St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Palm Sunday with Pope Benedict XVI, who emphasized in his homily that “denial” and “self sacrifice” are the way to lead to a “just life.” Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s Square for tens of thousands of pilgrims, including a large delegation of 7,000 young people from the Archdiocese of Madrid, Spain, the site of the next Word Youth Day in 2011.

As is tradition, Benedict XVI blessed the palms and olive branches before Mass began and then led the procession to the altar.

Benedict’s homily focused on the sacrifice of the cross and how it proves "the fundamental law of human existence: 'Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.'”

Two topics that are seen as causes for much of the economic crises, greed and selfishness, were also discussed.

Benedict XVI said, "Those who wish to keep their lives for themselves to live only for themselves, to keep everything for themselves and exploit every possibility; those people lose their lives.” He said that those people who “exploit” others “become empty and boring” and that only through giving oneself and saying “‘yes’ to the greater life” of following Christ, can we have a more complete and fulfilling life.

Speaking on the topic of love, the Pope said, "Love means the abandoning of self, the giving of self” as opposed to desiring to “possess oneself.” Benedict XVI also warned against “closing in on oneself” which leads to selfishness and greed.

The “cross and the resurrection” are the way to live the “truth,” but it is not just enough to “make one single great decision,” following Christ is a “great fundamental decision” which must be renewed daily and by placing “ourselves at the disposal of others.”

To live a “just life,” the Holy Father emphasized that “sacrifice and denial” are key components. Despite what the world says, “Without sacrifice, there can be no fulfilling life,” asserted Pope Benedict as he recalled how in his own life, “The times in which I said ‘yes’ to a sacrifice were the greatest and most important moments.”

Benedict XVI also reminded the faithful that God’s will is always “truer” and more important than their own will. The Christian life, he noted, is a life where the “death and resurrection of Jesus are the guarantee that we can truly trust God.” This is the “way that His Kingdom is realized.”

At the conclusion of his homily, Benedict XVI again stressed, “those who wish to keep their life for themselves lose it. Those who give their life (in the small everyday actions that are part of the great decision), those people find it.” This is the truth, he said, and it’s a “demanding but beautiful and liberating truth in which, little by little, we wish to enter as the cross journeys across the continents.”

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