Beneath the gaze of the towering figures of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict presided over the annual Palm Sunday liturgy in St. Peter's Square this morning. He reminded the audience that God's power is in the power of love - which is present in the sacrifice of his Son.
Young people from all parts of Italy filled the square to hear the Holy Father address them on the 23rd Youth Day for the Diocese of Rome. Many of the students waving baseball caps and holding banners welcomed the Holy Father and listened as he told them that Jesus Christ did not come as a "destroyer with the sword of a revolutionary."
Rather, he said that Jesus came as a healer and reveals God in our midst as "the One who loves; his power is the power of love."
The Pope said Jesus' ascent from Galilee to Jerusalem is also an interior ascent that ultimately ends on the Cross, "the definitive place of contact between God and man “that shows Jesus' "love to the end" (cf. Jn 13, 1).
In the Old Testament, Pope Benedict said the temple is the place where God, the creator of heaven and earth, who cannot be contained, chose to dwell, so that all men would be able to revere Him in a tangible way as one present in our midst.
But after his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus arrives at the temple, which had become a "den of thieves." (Mt 21, 13) Pope Benedict explained that the system in place in the temple was itself corrupt, and rather than being a place of prayer where God of all peoples eagerly awaited even the pagans, the temple itself had become a pagan marketplace.
"But, as usual since the fall of Adam, the failure of men becomes an opportunity for an even greater commitment of God's love towards us. "Pope Benedict said. He went on to explain that in this, Jesus shows himself as a healer and to be in his own person the place of encounter between man and God.
"In Jesus Christ himself the love of God stoops to men. He, in his life, is the new and living temple. He, who has passed through the Cross and rose, is the living space of spirit and life, who performs just adoration."
Thus, the Holy Father said, the purification of the temple, "is both a sign of impending ruin and of the building and the promise of the new temple; the promise of the kingdom of reconciliation and love that, in communion with Christ, is established beyond any border.
Echoing themes from encounters with young people during the week, the Pope urged the faithful to abandon pride and be reconciled to God, even amidst the challenges of society, in order to become with and from Jesus, true "messengers of peace."
But, he added, "To meet God must become capable of seeing with the heart. We must learn to see with a young heart, which is not hindered by prejudices and is not blinded by interests."
"Together with young people from all over the world go to meet Jesus…Let us pray, so that we, so that in us and around us His kingdom grows."