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Monday, April 18, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 17 APR 2011 (VIS) - Benedict XVI presided over the thousands of persons who filled St. Peter's Square for the Eucharistic celebration of Palm Sunday and the Lord's Passion and the day that celebrates, at a diocesan level, the XXVI World Youth Day on the theme "Rooted and Built in Christ: Firm in the Faith" (cf. Col 2:7).

  Before Mass the Pope blessed the palms and olive branches at the obelisk of the square, then he moved in the Popemobile to the altar.

  In the homily the Holy Father, reflecting on the meaning of Jesus' pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, explained that "he knew that ... he himself would take the place of the sacrificial lambs by offering himself on the cross. ... The ultimate goal of his pilgrimage was the heights of God himself; to those heights he wanted to lift every human being".

  "But", he asked, "how can we keep pace with this ascent?  Isn't it beyond our ability?  Certainly, it is beyond our own possibilities.  From the beginning men and women have been filled - and this is as true today as ever - with a desire to 'be like God', to attain the heights of God ... And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful. With the increase of our abilities there has been an increase not only of good. Our possibilities for evil have increased and appear like menacing storms above history. Our limitations have also remained: we need but think of the disasters which have caused so much suffering for humanity in recent months".

Benedict XVI highlighted that "man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us, and grants us true freedom".

  "God himself must draw us up, and this is what Christ began to do on the cross.  He descended to the depths of our human existence in order to draw us up to himself, to the living God. ... Only in this way could our pride be vanquished: God's humility is the extreme form of his love, and this humble love draws us upwards".

  The Pope placed special emphasis on the need we have of God. "he draws us upwards; letting ourselves be upheld by his hands - by faith, in other words - sets us aright and gives us the inner strength that raises us on high. We need the humility of a faith which seeks the face of God and trusts in the truth of his love. The question of how man can attain the heights, becoming completely himself and completely like God, has always engaged mankind".

 "We are on pilgrimage with the Lord to the heights. We are striving for pure hearts and clean hands, we are seeking truth, we are seeking the face of God. Let us show the Lord that we desire to be righteous, and let us ask him: Draw us upwards! Make us pure!" He concluded, "grant that the words which we sang in the processional psalm may also hold true for us; grant that we may be part of the generation which seeks God, 'which seeks  your face, O God of Jacob'"
HML/                                    VIS 20110418 (550)

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