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Pope Francis marks Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square

In his homily for Palm Sunday today, Pope Francis urged the congregation to spend their Holy Week meditating on Christ’s Passion, suffering, and death. “We have heard the Gospel reading of the Passion of the Lord. Only, it does us good to ask a question: Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I before Jesus who enters festively into Jerusalem,” the Pope asked pointedly in his first Holy Week reflection of 2014. “This week moves towards the mystery of the death of Jesus and of his resurrection,” the Pope reminded. “Where is my heart and which of these persons am I most like? It is this question that accompanies us throughout the week.”

Pope Francis marked the beginning of Holy Week today in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis marked the beginning of Holy Week today in St. Peter's Square.
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The Papal liturgy for Palm Sunday was held in a sun-drenched St. Peter’s Square before a capacity crowd waving palm branches in honor of Christ the King. Reflecting that many in the crowd who were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David” on Sunday would, by Friday, be calling openly for Jesus’ crucifixion and death on Friday, the Pope said that we might ask ourselves “am I like one of them.”

“Am I like Judas, who pretends to love and kisses the master to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Or am I like the disciples who did not understand what it was to betray Jesus? They did not understand anything...they fell asleep while the Lord suffered. Is my life asleep?” The Pope said that many are like Pontius Pilate, who see a difficult situation and find themselves faced with the fact that the right decision may not be the popular one and would rather wash their hands of the situation than “assume responsibility.” The Holy Father said that we could be like a much more courageous figure such as Simon of Cyrene. “Am I like Simon of Cyrene who was returning from work, tired, but had the good will to to help the Lord carry the cross,” asked the Holy Father. Am I like to courageous women, and like the mother of Jesus, who were there, suffering in silence?”

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Pope lead the assembled crowds in praying the Angelus.