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 CNS Story:

POPE-PALMSUNDAY Mar-17-2008 (530 words) With photos. xxxi

Jesus' power was the power of love, pope says on Palm Sunday

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The power Jesus demonstrated was the power of love, which heals and reconciles, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"He did not come as one who destroys; he did not come with the revolutionary's sword. He came with the gift of healing," the pope said March 16 as he celebrated Mass on Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

Along with the pope, more than 350 young people and more than 200 cardinals, bishops and priests processed through the square carrying palm and olive branches as they marked Jesus' entry into Jerusalem before his arrest, passion and death.

The young people chosen for the procession to represent their peers around the world were a special part of the liturgy, which also marked the diocesan celebration of World Youth Day.

Pope Benedict noted how the Gospel tells of the young people of Jerusalem waving palm branches and exclaiming "Hosanna" as Jesus entered the city.

Reciting the Angelus at the end of Mass, Pope Benedict told the young people he hoped to see thousands of them in Sydney, Australia, for the July 15-20 international World Youth Day celebration, and he prayed that it would be "a time of deep and lasting spiritual renewal."

The pope's homily at the Palm Sunday Mass focused on the Gospel story of Jesus throwing the animal sellers and the money-changers out of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The animals were sold for Temple sacrifices and people needed to change money to make donations to the Temple, he said, but "all of this could have taken place elsewhere," outside the Temple, which should have been a place of prayer.

The space occupied by the sellers and money-changers, the pope said, was supposed to be the atrium where the pagans, who could not enter the Temple, could still go "to associate themselves with the prayer to the one God."

"The God of Israel, the God of all people, was waiting for their prayers as well," he said.

Pope Benedict said the story should lead Catholics today to ask: "Is our faith pure and open enough" so that people who are searching for God will ask to join Catholics?

The story also calls on Christians to ask themselves if they are aware that "greed is idolatry" and if it is seen in their lives, the pope said.

"Do we perhaps let idols enter into our faith in various ways? Are we always open to letting the Lord purify us, allowing him to throw out of us and of the church all that is contrary to him?" he asked.

The pope said it is important to know that in the Gospel of St. Matthew the story of Jesus purifying the Temple is followed by stories of Jesus healing the sick.

In healing the sick, Jesus reaches out to those whose lives have been reduced by illness or infirmity and who often are pushed to the margins of society, the pope said.

"Jesus shows God as the one who loves and demonstrates his power as the power of love," he said.


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