Always beside us

1. Jesus enters Jerusalem. The crowd of disciples accompanies him in festive mood, their garments are stretched out before him, there is talk of the miracles he has accomplished, and loud praises are heard: “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Lk 19:38).

Crowds, celebrating, praise, blessing, peace: joy fills the air. Jesus has awakened great hopes, especially in the hearts of the simple, the humble, the poor, the forgotten, those who do not matter in the eyes of the world. He understands human sufferings, he has shown the face of God’s mercy, and he has bent down to heal body and soul.

This is Jesus. This is his heart which looks to all of us, to our sicknesses, to our sins. The love of Jesus is great. And thus he enters Jerusalem, with this love, and looks at us. It is a beautiful scene, full of light - the light of the love of Jesus, the love of his heart - of joy, of celebration.

At the beginning of Mass, we too repeated it. We waved our palms, our olive branches. We too welcomed Jesus; we too expressed our joy at accompanying him, at knowing him to be close, present in us and among us as a friend, a brother, and also as a King: that is, a shining beacon for our lives. Jesus is God, but he lowered himself to walk with us. He is our friend, our brother. He illumines our path here. And in this way we have welcomed him today. And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them! And in this moment the enemy, the devil, comes, often disguised as an angel, and slyly speaks his word to us. Do not listen to him! Let us follow Jesus! We accompany, we follow Jesus, but above all we know that he accompanies us and carries us on his shoulders. This is our joy, this is the hope that we must bring to this world. Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let hope be stolen! The hope that Jesus gives us.

2. The second word. Why does Jesus enter Jerusalem? Or better: how does Jesus enter Jerusalem? The crowds acclaim him as King. And he does not deny it, he does not tell them to be silent (cf. Lk 19:39-40). But what kind of a King is Jesus? Let us take a look at him: he is riding on a donkey, he is not accompanied by a court, he is not surrounded by an army as a symbol of power. He is received by humble people, simple folk who have the sense to see something more in Jesus; they have that sense of the faith which says: here is the Saviour. Jesus does not enter the Holy City to receive the honours reserved to earthly kings, to the powerful, to rulers; he enters to be scourged, insulted and abused, as Isaiah foretold in the First Reading (cf. Is 50:6). He enters to receive a crown of thorns, a staff, a purple robe: his kingship becomes an object of derision. He enters to climb Calvary, carrying his burden of wood. And this brings us to the second word: Cross. Jesus enters Jerusalem in order to die on the Cross. And it is precisely here that his kingship shines forth in godly fashion: his royal throne is the wood of the Cross! It reminds me of what Benedict XVI said to the Cardinals: you are princes, but of a king crucified. That is the throne of Jesus. Jesus takes it upon himself… Why the Cross? Because Jesus takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world, including the sin of all of us, and he cleanses it, he cleanses it with his blood, with the mercy and the love of God. Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money that you can’t take with you and have to leave. When we were small, our grandmother used to say: a shroud has no pocket. Love of power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation! And – as each one of us knows and is aware - our personal sins: our failures in love and respect towards God, towards our neighbour and towards the whole of creation. Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection. This is the good that Jesus does for us on the throne of the Cross. Christ’s Cross embraced with love never leads to sadness, but to joy, to the joy of having been saved and of doing a little of what he did on the day of his death.

3. Today in this Square, there are many young people: for twenty-eight years Palm Sunday has been World Youth Day! This is our third word: youth! Dear young people, I saw you in the procession as you were coming in; I think of you celebrating around Jesus, waving your olive branches. I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him! You have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty. Dear young people! With Christ, the heart never grows old! Yet all of us, all of you know very well that the King whom we follow and who accompanies us is very special: he is a King who loves even to the Cross and who teaches us to serve and to love. And you are not ashamed of his Cross! On the contrary, you embrace it, because you have understood that it is in giving ourselves, in giving ourselves, in emerging from ourselves that we have true joy and that, with his love, God conquered evil. You carry the pilgrim Cross through all the Continents, along the highways of the world! You carry it in response to Jesus’ call: “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), which is the theme of World Youth Day this year. You carry it so as to tell everyone that on the Cross Jesus knocked down the wall of enmity that divides people and nations, and he brought reconciliation and peace. Dear friends, I too am setting out on a journey with you, starting today, in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. We are already close to the next stage of this great pilgrimage of the Cross. I look forward joyfully to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world. Young people must say to the world: to follow Christ is good; to go with Christ is good; the message of Christ is good; emerging from ourselves, to the ends of the earth and of existence, to take Jesus there, is good! Three points, then: joy, Cross, young people.

Let us ask the intercession of the Virgin Mary. She teaches us the joy of meeting Christ, the love with which we must look to the foot of the Cross, the enthusiasm of the young heart with which we must follow him during this Holy Week and throughout our lives. May it be so.


Pope Francis          

13.04.13  Holy Mass  Santa Marta    

Acts 6: 1-7  

In the passage from the Acts of the Apostles (6:1-7), proclaimed in the First Reading, there is a piece of the history of the Church's early days: the Church was growing, the number of disciples was increasing, but “it was at this very moment that the problems arose”. Indeed, “those who spoke Greek murmured against those who spoke the Hebrew language because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Life, was not always calm and beautiful and the first thing they do is to murmur, to gossip about each other: “But look, the thing is …”. But this does not lead to any solution”.

“The Apostles”, on the contrary, “with the help of the Holy Spirit, reacted well. They summoned the group of disciples and spoke to them. This is the first step: when there are difficulties, it is necessary to examine them closely, to take them up and to talk about them. Never hide them. Life is like this. Life must be taken as it comes, not as we would like it to come”. It is a little like the goalkeeper of the team, isn't it? He grabs the ball wherever it comes from, This is the reality. Thus the Apostles “spoke to each other and came up with a lovely proposal, a revolutionary proposal, for they said: “but we are the Apostles, those who Jesus chose”. However, that was not enough. They realized that their first duty was to pray and to serve the Word. “And as for the daily assistance to widows, we must do something else”. This is “what the deacons decided to do”.

Ask “the Lord for this grace: not to be afraid, and not to use cosmetics on life”, in order to be able “to take life as it comes and to try to solve the problems as the Apostles did. And also to seek the encounter with Jesus who is always beside us, also at life's bleakest moments


Pope Francis  


27.08.23 Angelus, Saint Peter's Square 

21st Sunday Year A  

Matthew 16: 13-20

Dear brothers and sisters, good day!

Today in the Gospel (cf. Mt 16, 13-20), Jesus asks the disciples a good question: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” (v.13).

It is a question we too can ask: what do Jesus’ people say? In general, good things: many see him as a great teacher, as a special person: good, righteous, consistent, courageous… But is this enough to understand who He is, and above all, is it enough for Jesus? It seems not. If He were simply a person from the past – just as the figures cited in the same Gospel, John the Baptist, Moses, Elijah and the great prophets were for the people – He would merely be a good memory of a bygone time. And for Jesus, this will not do. Therefore, immediately afterwards, the Lord asks the disciples the decisive question: “But who do you – you! – say that I am?” (v. 15). Who am I for you, now? Jesus does not want to be a key figure from past history; He wants to be an important person for you today, for me today; not a distant prophet: Jesus wants to be the God who is close to us!

Christ, brothers and sisters, is not a memory of the past, but the God of the present. If He were merely an historic figure, to imitate Him today would be impossible: we would find ourselves faced with the great chasm of time, and above all, faced with his model, which is like a very high, unscalable mountain; we would want to climb it, but lack the ability and the necessary means. Instead, Jesus is living: let us remember this, Jesus is living, Jesus lives in the Church, He lives in the world, Jesus accompanies us, Jesus is by our side, He offers us His Word, He offers us His grace, which enlighten and refresh us on the journey: He, an expert and wise guide, is happy to accompany us on the most difficult paths and the steepest slopes.

Dear brothers and sisters, we are not alone on the path of life, because Christ is with us, Christ helps us to walk, as He did with Peter and the other disciples. It is precisely Peter, in today’s Gospel, who understands this and by grace recognizes in Jesus “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16): “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, says Peter; He is not a character from the past, but the Christ, that is, the Messiah, the awaited one; not a deceased hero, but the Son of the living God, made man and come to share the joys and the labours of our journey. Let us not be discouraged if at times the summit of the Christian life seems too high and the path too steep. Let us look to Jesus, always; let us look to Jesus who walks beside us, who accepts our frailties, shares our efforts and rests his firm and gentle arm on our weak shoulders. With Him close at hand, let us also reach out to one another and renew our trust: with Jesus, what seems impossible on our own is no longer so, with Jesus we can go forth!

Today it will be good for us to repeat the decisive question, that comes out of his mouth: “Who do you – Jesus says to you – who do you say that I am?”. Let us hear the voice of Jesus, who asks us this. In other words: who is Jesus for me? An important figure, a point of reference, an unattainable model? Or is He God the Son, who walks by my side, who can lead me to the peak of holiness, that I cannot reach by myself? Is Jesus truly living in my life, does Jesus live with me? Is He my Lord? Do I entrust myself to Him in moments of difficulty? Do I cultivate his presence through the Word, through the Sacraments? Do I let myself be guided by Him, together with my brothers and sisters, in the community?

May Mary, Mother of the path, help us to feel that Son alive and present beside us.