Pope Francis poses Holy Week challenge

"Who am I before the suffering Jesus?"

This was the question posed by Pope Francis this week as he commenced celebrations to mark Holy Week.

Leading events marking Palm Sunday, and in anticipation of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the Pope posed his question for all faithful during his audience in St Peter’s Square.

In a move that has now become commonplace for the Pontiff, he departed from the set text of his address to those assembled to challenge them in this most important of weeks in the Christian calendar.

“This week will unfold in the mystery of Jesus' death and his resurrection,” he said. “As we feel the Passion of the Lord, it will do us good to ask, Who am I? Who am I before my Lord? Who am I before Jesus as he festively enters Jerusalem? Am I able to express my joy, and praise him? Or do I stand away?

"Am I able to welcome Jesus as he enters Jerusalem? Am I like the Pharisees, like the man from Cyrene, like the crowd that chose Barabbas? Or am I like the apostle who wanted to solve everything with the sword? Or like the courageous women at the sepulchre? Where is my heart? Let this question accompany us throughout the week. Who am I before the suffering Jesus?"

Events for Palm Sunday also saw a young people from Brazil hand over the World Youth Day Cross to a delegation of Polish youth on behalf of the city of Krakow, where World Youth Day will be held in 2016. The handover prompted the Pope to refer to the forthcoming canonisation of the event’s patron, Blessed John Paul II.

"On 27 April, we shall all rejoice at celebrating the canonisation of this Pope, as well as that of John XXIII,” he said.  “Pope John Paul II, who was the initiator of the World Youth Days, will become its great patron. In the communion of saints, he will continue to be a father and a friend for the young people of the world.”