Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm: Fresh... Pastorale: Vintage

As you can see, somebody's staff just got a good bit bigger... and older... and more golden.

Not a donkey in sight, though.

Homily theme: Christians, their need for constant purification... and their role in the "pagan" world.

Jesus told his disciples that, to enter the Kingdom of God, they'd have to become again like children. He himself, who embraces the whole world, was himself made small that we might come to meet him, to lead us toward God. To recognize God we must abandon the pride that bedazzles, that pushes us further from God, as if God were our equal. To encounter God is to become able to see with the heart. We must learn to see with a young heart, one unhindered by prejudice and not beholden to our own interests. Thus, just the little ones who with a similarly free and open heart recognized Him, the Church has seen the image of the believers of all time, [that is] its own image.
Dear friends, in this hour we join ourselves to the procession of the youth of today -- a procession that crosses all of history. Together with the young people of all the world let us walk together to Jesus. From Him let us be guided toward God, to learn from God himself the right way to be men and women. With him let us thank God, because in Jesus, the Son of David, he has given us a place of peace and reconciliation that encompasses the world. Let us pray to Him, that we might come to be with Him and to proceed forward as His messengers of peace, that in us and around us there might grow his Kingdom. Amen.
SVILUPPO: More homily....
[T]he pope took as his point of departure today's remembrance of the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, where He was welcomed by a jubilant crowd, to highlight the episode in which Jesus, entering into the temple, chases out "the animal vendors and moneychangers who were occupying the place of prayer with their business". The space where this commerce took place was "the atrium of the pagans", the place of prayer reserved for non-Israelites. "The God of Israel", the pontiff comments, "was the only God of all peoples. And even if the pagans did not enter, so to speak, inside Revelation, they were nonetheless able, in the atrium of faith, to associate themselves with the prayer to the one God. The God of Israel, the God of all men, was always waiting for their prayer, for their searching, for their invocation. Now, instead, it was business that dominated there".

Benedict XVI asked whether the Christians of today are not themselves so suffocated by "greed" and " idolatry " that it becomes difficult for non-Christians to adhere to the faith: "Is our faith pure and open enough, so that on this basis even the 'pagans', the people who today are seeking and questioning, can glimpse the light of the one God, join in our prayer in the atria of faith, and through their questioning, perhaps, become worshipers themselves? Are we aware of how greed and idolatry affect even our own hearts and way of life? Do we not, perhaps, in various ways allow idols to enter into the world of our faith as well? Are we willing to allow ourselves to be continually purified by the Lord, permitting Him to drive out from us and from the Church everything that is contrary to Him?".

The "purification of the temple", however, is more than a "fight against abuses": it signifies "a new chapter of history", in which Jesus offers Himself as the New Temple, the new place in which God is encountered.
"The purification of the temple", the pope explains, "as the culmination of the solemn entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, is the sign both of the impending ruin of the building and of the promise of the New Temple; the promise of the Kingdom of reconciliation and love that, in communion with Christ, is established beyond all boundaries".
"Immediately after Jesus' words about the house of prayer for all peoples, the evangelist [Matthew] continues in this way: 'The blind and the lame approached him in the temple area, and he cured them'. And furthermore, Matthew tells us that there were children repeating in the temple the acclamation that the pilgrims had made at His entrance into the city: 'Hosanna to the son of David' (Mt 21:14 ff). To the selling of animals and the business of the moneychangers Jesus opposes his own healing goodness. This is the true purification of the temple. He does not come as a destroyer, He does not come with the sword of the revolutionary. He comes with the gift of healing. He dedicates himself to those who because of their infirmity are driven to the extremes of their life and to the margin of society. Jesus shows God as He who loves, and His power as the power of love. And so He tells us what will always be part of the true worship of God: healing, service, the goodness that heals".
PHOTOS: Reuters (1-3); Getty Images (4)