PAUL VI GENEROUSLY GAVE HIMSELF TO CHRIST
Pope John Paul II
Holy Father celebrates Mass in Castel Gandolfo on the 18th anniversary of Pope Paul's death on 6 August 1996
1. "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" (Mt 17:4).
The words of Peter, who, together with James and John, was a privileged witness of the Lord's Transfiguration express the awareness that only by meeting Christ, the New Man, does life acquire full meaning. Thus the Apostle's curiosity is transformed into the desire to remain with him always.
Today's liturgy, which again presents us with the Transfiguration event, also invites us to lift our gaze beyond the ordinary events of daily life, to glimpse the mystery of love which sustains them: the paschal mystery of Christ, the heart of human history.
It also tells us the primary way to reach this penetrating vision of every human event: it is the way of listening to the "prophetic word", which is "as ... a lamp shining in a dark place" (2 Pt 1:19). Comforted by this light, we will be able to persevere confidently, waiting until "the day dawns" and "the morning star rises" (cf. ibid.) to bring lasting joy and peace to our heart.
2. Dear brothers and sisters, today we recall the 18th anniversary of the death of my venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI. The unique coincidence of his death with the feast of the Transfiguration invites us to reflect on how profoundly he lived the mystery we are commemorating.
"I am fixing my gaze on the mystery of death and of what follows thereafter in the light of Christ which alone sheds light upon it; and therefore with humble and serene confidence. I am deeply aware of the truth, which for me is always reflected from this mystery on the present life, and I thank the conqueror of death for having dispelled its darkness and revealed its light" (Testamento di Paolo Vl: Insegnamenti, vol. XVI 1978, p. 590).
These words, which Pope Paul VI left us in his testament, confirm the clear vision of events that he acquired from his intense familiarity with God and make him a credible witness to future realities. His meeting with the Lord, the focus of his tiring days as a Pastor beset with concern for his brothers and sisters, enabled him to see the true meaning of things, and sustained him as he generously gave himself to Christ for the good of the Christian people.
In the light of this experience, he lived the difficult journey, fraught with heavy responsibilities, which Providence had entrusted to him. He lived it in gratitude, fervently and vigilantly awaiting his meeting with the heavenly Father. By contemplating the mystery of God, he also nourished his sometimes agonizing but unyielding search for an encounter with contemporary culture, in order to offer each individual the Gospel's vision of salvation and deliverance from confusion and despair.
Remembering to the Lord his great witness of faith and pastoral charity which he particularly showed in the face of the mystery of death and the final meeting with God, we commend his blessed soul to the Lord, trusting that after following Christ faithfully on his earthly way, he may now contemplate him forever in the heavenly homeland.
Weekly Edition in English
21 August 1996
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