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Online Edition - Vol. VIII, No. 2: April 2002

Pope John Paul II

The Demands of the Cross of Christ

On Palm Sunday, March 24, Pope John Paul II directed his homily to youth. Excepts from the homily follow. (Vatican translation.)

The Cross is the focus of the liturgy today. Dear young people, with your attentive and enthusiastic participation in this solemn celebration, you show that you are not ashamed of the Cross. You do not fear the Cross of Christ. Indeed, you love and venerate it because it is the sign of the Redeemer who died and rose again for us. Those who believe in Jesus, crucified and risen, carry the Cross in triumph as an indisputable proof that God is love. With the total gift of himself on the Cross, our Saviour decisively conquered sin and death. Therefore we joyfully proclaim:  "Glory and praise to you, O Christ, who has redeemed the world with your Cross".

"Christ became obedient for us even to death, death on the Cross. Therefore God raised him on high and gave him a name above every other name" (Gospel acclamation).

We have used these words of the Apostle Paul, just heard in the Second Reading, as our acclamation before we begin the reading of the Passion. They express our faith: the faith of the Church.

However, faith in Christ can never be taken for granted. The reading of his Passion sets us before Christ, living in his Church. The Easter Mystery that we will relive during the days of Holy Week is always present. Today we are contemporaries of the Lord and, like the multitude in Jerusalem, like the disciples and the women, we are called to decide if we are to be with him, or flee, or just be spectators at his death.

Every year in Holy Week the curtain rises once again on the great scene in which the definitive drama is decided, not only for one generation, but for all humanity and for each one.

The Passion narrative points out the fidelity of Christ, contrasted with human infidelity. In the hour of his trial, while the disciples and even Peter abandon Jesus (cf. Mt 26,56), He remains faithful, willing to pour out his blood to bring to fulfillment the mission the Father has entrusted to him. Beside him is Mary, silent and suffering.

Dear young people! Learn from Jesus and from his and our Mother. The real strength of a man lies in the fidelity of his witness to the truth and in his resisting flattery, threats, misunderstandings, blackmail, even harsh and relentless persecution. This is the path on which our Redeemer calls us to follow him.

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