VATICAN - The Pope begins Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday Mass: “Dear young people do not be afraid to proclaim whatever the circumstances the Gospel of the Cross. Do not be afraid to go upstream!”

Monday, 5 April 2004

Vatican City (Fides Service) - “In the atmosphere of joy veiled with sadness which marks Palm Sunday we are celebrating the 19th World Youth Day. This year it has as its theme “We want to see Jesus” the request addressed to the Apostles by "some Greeks" who had come to Jerusalem for the festivity of the Passover. Addressing the crowds who had come to listen to Him, the Lord exclaimed: "When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all to me". This is the answer: all who search for the Son of Man will see him at the feast of the Passover as the true Lamb slain for the redemption of the world.” This was part of a homily given by Pope John Paul II on Palm Sunday during the Mass he presided in St Peter’s Square on April 4. The Pope blessed the palms and then presided the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Passion for the thousands of young people from Rome and many parts of the world who had come to take part in the event.
“Jesus died on the Cross for each and every one of us. The Cross is therefore the greatest and most eloquent sign for every generation and for all humanity.” The Pope told the young people and he recalled that twenty years ago at the end of the special Holy Year of the Redemption 1983-1984 it was to the young people that he entrusted the Cross of that Jubilee urging them to be faithful disciples of Christ. “Since then the Cross has been to many countries in preparation for World Youth Days. On its pilgrimage it has crossed Continents: like a torch passed from hand to hand it has been carried from one country to another; it has become bright sign of the confidence which fills the hearts of the young people of the third millennium.” The Pope then entrusted the Cross once again to the young people present as he did twenty years ago: “Certainly the message communicated by the Cross is not easy to understand in our era in which material wellbeing and commodities are proposed and sought after as priority values. But you dear young people, do not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel of the Cross whatever the circumstances. Do not be afraid to go upstream!”.
At the end of the Palm Sunday Mass the Pope recited the Angelus prayer with the people in St Peter’s Square and those connected via radio and television, including young people and the Bishop in Berlin where the Youth Cross had been carried by young people from Sarajevo in Bosnia. The Pope said to the young Germans: “With great joy I greet you the young people of Germany, your animators and spiritual assistants gathered around the Cross which has travelled through many countries of Europe. The Cross will now begin to travel your country to reach Cologne in August 2005 for the celebration of the 20th World Youth Day. I encourage the Church in Germany to work together for that great event.” Lastly the Pope greeted the participants at the International Youth Forum organised by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and young people from various countries who have come to Rome to take part in Holy Week Liturgies with the Pope. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 5/4/2004 - Righe 37; Parole 534)