Pope Francis’ Palm Sunday homily honors Christianity’s modern martyrs

Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican March 29, 2015. Photo by Max Rossi, courtesy of Reuters HIGH RES:
Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday mass at Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican March 29, 2015. Photo by Max Rossi, courtesy of Reuters.

Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday mass at Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 29, 2015. Photo by Max Rossi, courtesy of Reuters

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis led the world’s Roman Catholics in Palm Sunday celebrations by paying tribute to those killed for their faith, a reference to the victims of Islamic State militants.

Francis, who earlier this month began the third year of his papacy, presided at a colorful procession in St. Peter’s Square commemorating the day the Bible says people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus days before he was crucified.

Thousands of people, including the 78-year-old Argentine pope and prelates dressed in red vestments, carried palm fronds and branches in St. Peter’s Square on the day that marks the start of Holy Week, which ends on Easter Sunday.

In his homily during the Mass that followed, Francis, focused on the need for humility. Take Jesus’ path, he said. “There can be no humility without humiliation… making room for God by stripping oneself, ’emptying oneself.'”

And he paid tribute to modern-day martyrs, killed for their faith, denouncing the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State militants in Libya.

“We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price,” he said, speaking in Italian.

“We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. There are many of them. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity,” he said.

READ a ‘Splainer on what makes a martyr

Francis has at times expressed alarm over the rise of Islamic State militants and the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

He has said that the international community would be justified in using military force as a last resort to stop “unjust aggression” but that it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to intervene in the conflict.

The coming week is one of the busiest in the liturgical calendar for the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

On Holy Thursday, he presides at two services, including one at a Rome prison where he will wash and kiss the feet of male and female inmates to commemorate Christ’s gesture of humility towards his apostles on the night before he died.

Francis is the first pope to hold the foot-washing service outside a church and to include women and Muslims, which has upset conservative Catholics.

He presides at two Good Friday services, including a Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around the Colosseum.

After celebrating Easter Eve and Easter Day Masses he delivers his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Susan Thomas)

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  • While churches in the Middle East are fast disappearing, mosques and islam in the west is thriving and growing by each passing decade.

  • I wonder if he has included those murdered so that his Institution could take control and manipulate the masses … and the women still dying in hospitals … and the children still being sexually abused by his staff.

    Where does he think EVIL found vessels of its continuance for the blood fest? It hitched a ride on the Romanist zealots of pride and glory for self-agenda—its dogmatic Institution. Does Pope Fran think God has forgotten what the Religionists of Roman creed did? Who knows the mind of God?

    For what man knoweth the things of a man, “save the spirit of man which is in him?” even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

    But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

    God shows no partiality. So why is RNS always posting Sunday’s message from the Roman Pontiff and no one else? Oh, they are not God 😀

  • Good to hear Pope remember those persecuted in his homilies.

    The world must collectively stand together and unite to bring religious freedom to Mid East.

  • Now that I think about it … the Gnostics of the RCC’s “Gnostic Heresy Brand”—Gnosticism … if taking Scripture LITERALLY according to their beliefs … may just have a case against Romanism/Christianity. The torture and slaughter of the gnostics may not be 2,000 yrs ago but 2 days ago … an attempt to wipe out the gnostic? And what about the seminaries and other institutions where THEOLOGY is taught? Hinduism is taught … Islam is taught … what is taught about Gnosticism—if anything? Has “christianity” systematically eradicated their voice? removed from the educational and judicial halls of …

  • Pope Francis in his speech on Palm Sunday took note to honor those who have died for their belief in Jesus Christ. Martyrs do not die for the Catholic Church; they sacrifice themselves for love of the Man who gave His life for others. No greater honor or gift can match this love.
    Who among us has lost someone we love who brought us joy, happiness, laughter? Maybe they weren’t perfect but we loved them. In retrospect, who among us would open our Book of Life & erase their names as if they never existed?
    I’ve asked myself that question. Then I realize they have never left me, I have never left them, a smile on their lips, a twinkle in their eye. Their time with me may have been short but, I realize that who I am today and how I love is a reflection of them. Even atheists love; even atheists do not erase the memory just because a person has died.
    I lift my stein as I chew on a bratwurst to the Man hanging on a cross on Golgatha, with a smile on my face, laughter in my…

  • Pray for Peace!!!
    God hears the prayers of a fervent believer;
    pray, pray, and keep praying………

  • Sadly, ISIS has been systematically inflicting genocide on all middle eastern Christians they capture in the wake of their destruction (Orthodox, Catholic, Coptic). Once they have completed their mission, there will almost no Christians left in the Middle East, the very place where the Apostles themselves founded the Church. ISIS has become the new Albigensian Cathari. At some point the Church will need to defend itself.

  • In time of persecutions, if we think only of human power and capabilities ignoring God’s designs we shall never be at peace. This Holy week is a grand reminder to the believers that God triumphs over every kind of evil in His own way!
    John P. S.