Sunday, April 01, 2007

Following Jesus Means Giving Freely to the Other -- for Truth, for Love, for God Who, in Jesus Christ, Precedes Us and Shows Us the Way

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Homily for Palm Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Procession of Palm Sunday is also the procession of Christ the King: We profess the kingship of Jesus Christ, we acknowledge Jesus as the Son of David, the true Solomon -- King of peace and justice.

To recognize Him as King means to accept Him as He who shows us the way, He whom we trust and whom we follow. It means accepting His word every day as the valid criterion for our lives. It means seeing in Him the authority to whom we are subject. We subject ourselves to Him, because His authority is the authority of Truth.

The Procession of Palms -- like it was that time for the disciples -- is an expression of joy that we are able to acknowledge Jesus, because He has granted that we can be friends with Him and because He has given us the key to life. This joy, which is just beginning, is also an expression of our “Yes” to Jesus and our readiness to go wherever He brings us. The exhortation that was at the beginning of our liturgy today rightly interprets the procession also as a symbolic representation of that which we call “the following of Christ.”
"We ask for the grace to follow," we said. The expression “the following of Christ” describes the entire Christian existence, in general. What does it consist of? What does it mean, in concrete terms, “to follow Christ”?

At the beginning, with the first disciples, the sense was very simple and immediate: it meant that these persons had decided to leave their work, their business, all of their personal life, in order to go with Jesus. It meant undertaking a new profession: that of disciple. The basic content of this profession was to go with the Master, to entrust oneself totally to His guidance. And therefore, following Christ was an external manifestation but, at the same time, an interior one.

The exterior aspect was to walk behind Him in his travels throughout Palestine. The interior aspect was a new orientation of existence, which no longer had its points of reference in personal affairs, in the work by which one made a living, in one's personal wishes, but which abandons itself totally to the will of Another. To be available to Him had become the reason to live. What this renunciation meant -- of everything that pertained to each one, of such detachment from the self -- is something we can appreciate clearly in some episodes of the Gospel.

But this also makes clear what “following” means for us and what is its true essence for us: it means an interior mutation of our existence. It asks that I should no longer stay closed in within my "I," considering my self-realization to be the main reason for living. It asks that I give myself freely to the Other -- for Truth, for Love, for God who, in Jesus Christ, precedes me and shows me the way.

It means making the fundamental decision to cease considering utility and profit, career and success, as the ultimate purpose of my life, but instead to recognize truth and love as the genuine criteria. It means choosing between living just for myself or giving myself for a greater cause. And let us not forget that truth and love are not abstract values -- they are personified in Jesus Christ. So, following Him, I enter into the service of truth and love. And in losing myself, I find myself anew.

No comments: