The theme of
this year’s World Youth Day, which takes place in the Vatican during
odd years, was "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
traditional blessing of the palm branches, the Pope began his homily by
recalling how for 20 years, "thanks to John Paul II, Palm Sunday has
become a special day for young people; the day on which youth all over
the world go out to meet Christ in the desire to accompany Him into
their cities and countries, that He may remain among us and establish
His peace in the world.”
He stressed that
"If we want to go out and meet Jesus, and walk alongside Him on His
journey, we must however ask: along what path does He intend to lead
us? What do we expect from Him? What does He expect from us?"
the words of Zechariah who prophesies in Luke’s Gospel about the coming
King Jesus, who "will be a king of the poor, a poor man among the poor
and for the poor."
The Pope pointed
out that "one can be materially poor and yet have one's heart full of
desire for wealth and for the power that derives from wealth. ...
Interior freedom is a necessary condition for overcoming the corruption
and avidity that are now devastating the world; and this freedom can be
found only if God becomes our wealth."
He said that the
Prophet Zechariah "also shows us that this king will be a king of
peace," and this fact "takes concrete form in the sign of the cross.
... The new weapon that Jesus puts in our hands is the cross, a sign of
reconciliation, a sign of the love that is stronger than death.”
“Every time we
make the sign of the cross”, he said, “we must remember not to meet
injustice with injustice, violence with violence; we must remember that
we can conquer evil only with good, and never by repaying evil with
said that Zechariah’s third assertion was "the announcement of
universality. ... Christ reigns by becoming our bread and giving
Himself to us. This is the way in which He builds His kingdom."
It is through
the Eucharist, Benedict said, that "we enter His kingdom of peace. In
Him we welcome, in some way, all our brothers and sisters to whom He
comes, in order truly to become a kingdom of peace in the midst of this
He summed up by
saying that "These three characteristics announced by the prophet -
poverty, peace and universality - come together in the sign of the
cross. It is for this reason, and rightly so, that the cross has become
the focal point of World Youth Days.”
“There was a
time,” he pointed out, “a time that has not yet been completely left
behind, in which Christianity was rejected precisely because of the
cross. The cross represents sacrifice, it was said, the cross is a sign
of the negation of life. What we want, however, is life entire, without
restrictions or renunciation."
Sunday”, he stressed, “tells us that that the real great 'yes' is the
cross, that the cross is the real tree of life. We do not find life by
seizing it but by giving it.”
“Love is a giving of self and for this reason it is the way of true life symbolized by the cross."
Benedict XVI joined thousands of young pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square
yesterday to celebrate both Palm Sunday and the 21st World Youth Day.
Referring to Jesus‘ sacrifice on the cross, he said that real life is
gained not by seizing it, but by giving it.