“In the narrative of Christ’s Passion and Death, who am I?”

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This was the central question of Pope Francis’ homily during Palm Sunday Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, where 100,000 had gathered from around the world, bearing palms and olive branches. The Pope said that while this week begins with a festive procession of welcome and praise of Jesus, it also recalls the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection of Holy Week.

During this week, he said, “We would do well to ask just one question: who am I? Who am I, before my Lord? Who am I, who enters into Jerusalem in celebration? Am I able to express my joy, to praise Him? Or do I keep distant? Who am I, before Jesus Who suffers?”

The Holy Father recalled the names of those appearing in the Gospel reading for the day which recounts Christ’s Passion and Death. “Is my life asleep,” he said, like that of the disciples who slept while the Lord suffered? “Am I like Judas, who pretended to love, and kissed the Master to give him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor?”

Pope Francis listed the other players in the account of Christ’s Passion, calling us to ask ourselves if we are like one of these: Pilate, who washed his hands of his responsibility in condemning Jesus; the crowds who chose the criminal Barabbas over Jesus; the soldiers who struck Jesus and mocked him; the passersby who mocked Jesus as he hung on the Cross.

The Pope then went on to name those in the Gospel reading who showed their fidelity to Jesus: Simon of Cyrene, who helped carry the Cross; Joseph of Arimathea, the “hidden disciple,” who offered his own newly-hewn tomb for Jesus’ Body to be laid in; the women who wept and prayed before the tomb. Am I like Mary, he said, the “Mother of Jesus, who was there, suffering silently?”

Pope Francis concluded his homily saying that this question ought to accompany us through Holy Week: “Where is my heart? To which of these people am I most alike?”

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