VATICAN CITY, APR 13, 2003 (VIS) - Today at 10 a.m., Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, John Paul II presided at a Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 50,000 young people from all over the world who were celebrating the 18th World Youth Day on the theme 'Behold your mother.'
In the homily, the Pope said that today's liturgy is "like a solemn portal to enter into Holy Week. It connects two contrasting moments: Jesus's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and the drama of the Passion. ... It anticipates the 'hour' in which the Messiah will have to suffer so much, be killed and rise on the third day and it prepares us to live the Easter mystery in its entirety."
The Holy Father affirmed that Jerusalem "can be considered the city-symbol of humanity, especially in the dramatic beginning of the third millennium that we are living. Today we are celebrating because Jesus, King of peace, enters Jerusalem."
After greeting the many young people present, the Pope said: "How can I not express my fraternal solidarity to your peers who suffer due to war and violence in Iraq, the Holy Land, and in other regions in the world?"
"Today," he continued, "we welcome with faith and joy Christ, who is our 'king': king of truth, liberty, justice and love, which are the four 'pillars' on which it is possible to build the structure of true peace, as Blessed John XXIII wrote in the Encyclical 'Pacem in Terris' 40 years ago. I entrust it ideally to the young people from around the whole world. ... Read it, meditate on it, make an effort to put in into practice."
"'Behold your mother!' Jesus directs these words to each of you, dear friends. He also asks you to welcome Mary as mother in 'your home, among your goods.' ... May Mary help you to respond generously to the Lord's call and to persevere with joy and fidelity in the Christian mission! ... Young people of the third millennium," he concluded, "do not be afraid to offer your life as a total response to Christ! Only He changes the life and history of the world."
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