In his homily, the pope reflected on Christ’s triumphal entry in Jerusalem, when Jesus was greeted by crowds bearing palms.
“His people give him a solemn welcome, yet he enters Jerusalem on a lowly colt. His people expect a powerful liberator at Passover, yet he comes to bring the Passover to fulfillment by sacrificing himself. His people are hoping to triumph over the Romans by the sword, but Jesus comes to celebrate God’s triumph through the cross,” he said.
“What happened to those people who in a few days’ time went from shouting ‘Hosanna’ to crying out ‘Crucify him’? What happened? They were following an idea of the Messiah rather than the Messiah. They admired Jesus, but they did not let themselves be amazed by him.”
The pope said that today many people also admire Jesus for his life and teaching, but that “to admire Jesus is not enough.”
“What is most amazing about the Lord and his Passover?” he asked. “It is the fact that he achieves glory through humiliation. He triumphs by accepting suffering and death, things that we, in our quest for admiration and success, would rather avoid. Jesus -- as St. Paul tells us -- ‘emptied himself… he humbled himself’ (Philippians 2:7-8).”
“This is the amazing thing: to see the Almighty reduced to nothing. To see the Word who knows all things teach us in silence from the height of the cross. To see the King of Kings enthroned on a gibbet. Seeing the God of the universe stripped of everything and crowned with thorns instead of glory. To see the One who is goodness personified, insulted and beaten.”
He continued: “Why all this humiliation? Why, Lord, did you wish to endure all this? Jesus did it for us, to plumb the depths of our human experience, our entire existence, all our evil. To draw near to us and not abandon us in our suffering and our death. To redeem us, to save us. Jesus was lifted high on the cross in order to descend to the abyss of our suffering.”
After the Passion, human beings are never alone, the pope explained.
“God is at our side in every affliction, in every fear; no evil, no sin will ever have the final word. God triumphs, but the palm of victory passes through the wood of the cross. For the palm and the cross are inseparable,” he said.
“Let us ask for the grace to be amazed. A Christian life without amazement becomes dreary.”