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Do not ever be men and women of sadness

· On Palm Sunday the Pope celebrates World Youth Day in St Peter's Square ·

Pope Francis asks people not to let themselves be robbed of hope and encourages them to bring Jesus to the outskirts of the world and of life

“Please do not let yourselves be robbed of hope!”. Pope Francis spoke in fatherly tones to the crowd of the faithful who packed St Peter's Square on Sunday 24 March, waving their olive branches to commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. They were young people above all. The reason is, as has been happening now for 28 years, that the World Youth Day is celebrated on Palm Sunday in every diocese.
It was for this reason that the Bishop of Rome was speaking of joy outside the Vatican Basilica. Not of the joy “born of having many possessions”, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus”. And, just like a father he put his children on guard against the enemy, which is “often disguised as an angel” in order to ruin that joy. With the tenderness  he has so often evoked, he asked them: “please” not to let the hope that comes from Jesus be stolen”. On the day of the inauguration of his Petrine ministry Pope Francis also used that “please”, addressing the powerful of the world and calling for respect for creation.
But how is it possible not to let ourselves be robbed of hope? It suffices to look at Jesus while he enters Jerusalem, the Pope explained. “He is received by humble people, simple folk”, but who know that turning their eyes to Jesus means expressing the meaning of their faith and recognizing him as the Saviour who is not entering Jerusalem to receive honours but in order to die on the Cross. “Jesus!”, the Pope repeated, no longer reading his prepared text, “takes upon himself the evil, the filth, the sin of the world... and cleanses it with his blood”.
He then turned once again to the young people and spoke of the great wounds that evil inflicts on humanity: wars, violence, economic conflicts, greed for money: “which you can't take with you and have to leave”, he added. And just as in a family the example of the elderly is cited to make what is said more forceful, Pope Francis remembered what, “when we were small, our grandmother used to say to us as children: a shroud has no pocket”.
After joy and the Cross, there are the young people, the third point the Pope mentioned. “I saw you in the procession as you were coming in; I think of you crying out his name and expressing your joy at being with him!”, he said, addressing them directly. “You have an important part in the celebration of faith. With Christ the heart never grows old!”, he said, concluding the Homily. And during the Angelus, at the end of Mass, he invited them to prepare for the July event in Rio de Janeiro, where the international gathering for the World Youth Day will be held.

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 22, 2019

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