“When we resort to violence, we show that we no longer know anything about God, who is our Father, or even about others, who are our brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said during his homily at the Palm Sunday Mass, celebrated in St. Peter’s Square in the presence of more than 20,000 faithful, April 10, 2022.
Palm Sunday Mass was the first Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Square since October 2019. The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented the customary celebrations in the square that usually attract thousands of faithful in Rome. Masses have been celebrated inside Saint Peter’s Basilica, of course, during this time, but those celebrations have been on a smaller scale.
Hampered by leg pain in recent weeks, Pope Francis arrived in a car behind the altar and did not walk through the crowd that filled the square.
War and the crucifixion
“Christ is once more nailed to the Cross in mothers who mourn the unjust death of husbands and sons,” he continued without explicitly naming the ongoing Ukrainian conflict. He did, however, mention the “refugees who flee from bombs with children in their arms,” the “elderly left alone to die,” the “young people deprived of a future,” and “the soldiers sent to kill their brothers and sisters.”
“Looking at our violent and wounded world, [Jesus] never tires of repeating, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,'” Pope Francis insisted, calling on Christians to walk toward Easter without growing weary “of God’s forgiveness.” This is what Christ does on the cross when he reacts “to the nails of life with love, to the blows of hatred with the caress of forgiveness,” he insisted.
Jesus gives his forgiveness “in the most acute physical pain of the passion, which allows us to “break the vicious circle of evil and regret,” the bishop of Rome assured. “How much time do we spend thinking about those who have hurt us!” he lamented.
The “save yourself” mentality
This forgiveness, especially the one Christ on the cross offers to the good thief, the pontiff explained, is opposed to the “save yourself!” that the crowd screams during his crucifixion. The 266th pope deplored the attitude of those who think only of “your own well-being, your own success, your own interests: your possessions, your power, your image.”
Francis warned: “Against this self-centred mindset is God’s way of thinking.” “Save yourself. This is the constant refrain of the world that crucified the Lord. Let us think about it,” he insisted. Christ, he continued, invites us “to break out of the mindset that says: ‘I will love you if you love me; I will be your friend if you are my friend; I will help you if you help me.’”