Pope Francis has condemned those who "twist reality" and "invent stories" in order to gain power.
Delivering his Palm Sunday homily in St Peter's Square in Rome, the Pope referred to the Gospel accounts of Jesus' triumphal entry to Jerusalem, surrounded by his people and a cacophony of singing and shouting.
"We can imagine that amid the outcry we hear the voice of the forgiven son, the healed leper, or the bleating of the lost sheep. Then too, the song of the publican and the unclean man; the cry of those living on the edges of the city," the Pope said. "How could they not praise the one who had restored their dignity and hope? Theirs is the joy of so many forgiven sinners who are able to trust and hope once again."
Pope Francis described this joy and praise as "a source of unease, scandal and upset" for those who consider themselves righteous and “faithful” to the law and its ritual precepts.
"How hard it is for the comfortable and the self-righteous to understand the joy and the celebration of God’s mercy."
This is where the fierce cry of those who shout out: “Crucify him!” comes from, he continued.
"It is not spontaneous but already armed with disparagement, slander and false witness.
"It is the voice of those who twist reality and invent stories for their own benefit, without concern for the good name of others. The cry of those who have no problem in seeking ways to gain power and to silence dissonant voices. The cry that comes from 'spinning' facts and painting them such that they disfigure the face of Jesus and turn him into a 'criminal'. It is the voice of those who want to defend their own position, especially by discrediting the defenceless. It is the cry born of the show of self-sufficiency, pride and arrogance, which sees no problem in shouting: 'Crucify him, crucify him'."
This is how the celebration of the people ends up being stifled: "Hope is demolished, dreams are killed, joy is suppressed; the heart is shielded and charity grows cold."
Faced with such people, the best remedy is to look at Christ’s cross and let ourselves be challenged by his final cry, the Pope said. "He died crying out his love for each of us: young and old, saints and sinners, the people of his times and of our own."
The Pope also referred to a temptation to silence young people that "has always existed"
He said: "There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. Many ways to anaesthetise them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing. There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive. On this Palm Sunday, as we celebrate World Youth Day, we do well to hear Jesus’ answer to all those Pharisees past and present: 'If these were silent, the very stones would cry out' (Lk 19:40)."
Pic 1: Pope Francis blesses the faithful with holy water during Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 25. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)
Pic 2: Pope Francis holds palm fronds as he celebrates Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 25. (CNS photo/Maria Grazia Picciarella, pool)