Today’s vigil was due to take place in St. Peter’s Square but inclement weather forced a change of venue. This resulted in the majority of pilgrims being sent to the Paul VI Hall and the overflow being shepherded into St. Peter’s Basilica.
Pope Benedict briefly greeted those in the basilica and imparted his apostolic blessing upon them. He then proceeded to the audience hall where Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General of the Diocese Rome, read several passages from sacred scripture, to which the Pope responded with his speech.
The incarnation of Jesus Christ as king of peace, said the Pope, was foreshadowed in the Old Testament reading from the Book of Zechariah. “Behold, your king comes to you. He is just and victorious,” the Old Testament prophet said to the Jewish people.
“But the announcement does not refer to a king with human powers and force of arms,” said the Pope, “this is a gentle king who reigns with humility and gentleness before God and man, a king quite different from the great sovereigns of the earth.”
The unfolding of Zechariah’s prophecy first becames apparent at the time of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, Pope Benedict said, recalling how the angels proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.” Thus, he said, “the birth of that baby, who is Jesus, brings a proclamation of peace throughout the world.”
Similarly, the apostles would have recalled Zechariah’s words after “Christ’s passion, death and resurrection,” when “with the eyes of faith, they reconsidered their Master's joyful entry into the Holy City.”
“He did not enter Jerusalem accompanied by a mighty army of chariots and horsemen. He is a poor king, the king of the poor of God,” said the Pope, “he is a king who will make the chariots and steeds of battle disappear, who will break the weapons of war, a king who brought peace on the Cross, uniting heaven and earth and building a bridge between all mankind.”