VATICAN CITY, APR 3, 2007 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI presided at a Eucharistic concelebration with cardinals in commemoration of John Paul II. More than 30,000 people were present at the event, many of them having come from Poland to attend.
The aim of the celebration, said the Pope in his homily, is to give thanks to God for John Paul II, "for 27 years ... father and sure guide in the faith, zealous pastor and courageous prophet of hope, tireless witness and passionate servant of God's love."
Having addressed a special greeting to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who for more than 40 years was the late pontiff's private secretary, the Holy Father turned to comment on the day's Gospel reading recounting the supper at Bethany during which Mary, sister of Lazarus, taking "a pound of costly perfume, made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair."
The Pope said: "Mary of Bethany's gesture has rich spiritual echoes and significance. It evokes the shining testimony that John Paul II gave of an unreserved and selfless love for Christ. The 'fragrance' of his love filled the house, in other words the Church. ... Are not the esteem, respect and affection that believers and non-believers expressed when he died an eloquent testimony?"
"The intense and fruitful pastoral ministry, and even more so the Calvary of agony and the serene death of our beloved Pope, brought the men and women of our time to understand that Jesus Christ truly was his 'all.'
"We know," the Holy Father added, "that the fruitfulness of his testimony depended upon the Cross. In the life of Karol Wojtyla the word 'cross' was not just a word. Ever since his infancy and youth, he had experienced pain and death." And, "particularly with the slow but implacable progress of his illness which little by little deprived him of everything, his existence became a complete offering to Christ."
"His pontificate was marked by his 'prodigality,' by his generous and unreserved giving of self. What moved him if not his mystical love for Christ? ... 'Magister adest et vocat te' - the Master is here and He calls you. On April 2, 2005, the Master returned ... to call him and take him home, to the house of the Father. And he, again, responded readily with his intrepid heart and whispered: 'Let me go to the Lord'."
"For a long time he had been preparing for this final meeting with Jesus, as evinced by the various drafts of his will. ... He died praying. He truly fell asleep in the Lord. ... The fragrance of the faith, the hope and the charity of the Pope filled his house, it filled St. Peter's Square, it filled the Church and spread over the whole world."
"Servant of God," Benedict XVI exclaimed, "this is what he was and this is what we call him now in the Church, while the process of his beatification continues apace. ... Servant of God, a particularly appropriate title for him. The Lord called him to His service on the path of the priesthood and little by little opened ever vaster horizons before him: from his diocese to the Universal Church. This universal dimension reached its greatest extent at the moment of his death, an event that the entire world experienced with a level of participation never before seen in history."
"May the 'Totus tuus' of the beloved Pontiff encourage us along the path of giving ourselves to Christ by the intercession of Mary," the Holy Father concluded. "To her maternal hands we entrust this our father, brother and friend that in God he may find peaceful repose and happiness."
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