Pope Benedict XVI opened Holy Week at the Vatican with the traditional Palm Sunday procession and Mass in St. Peter’s Square on March 16.
About 50,000 people attended the Eucharistic celebration. Most were young people who were observing World Youth Day in the Rome diocese, preparing for the worldwide celebration that will be held in Sydney, Australia in July.
In his homily during the Mass, Pope Benedict recalled that after his entry into Jerusalem, Jesus found the Temple cluttered with traders busy with various money-making schemes. That bit of Gospel history should cause Christians today to pause and ask themselves whether our faith is “open and pure enough,” the Pope remarked. Non-believers coming into Christian churches should be able to “see the light of the one God,” rather than be distracted, he said.
The Pope prodded the faithful to examine their consciences particularly with respect to financial affairs, recognizing that “greed is idolatry.” Like the Jewish worshippers at the time of Christ, he said, we should notice how “in various ways we actually let idols enter the worth of our faith.”
Holy Week gives the Church a fresh opportunity for purification, the Pope said. After driving away the money-changers, he said, in their place “Christ put his own healing goodness. This is the true purification of the Temple.” Referring back to Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Pope took note that Jesus was always especially anxious to embrace children. Like those children, eager for Christ’s touch, “we must abandon the pride that blineds us, that pushes us away from God as if He were our competitor,” the Pope said.