OCTOBER 22, 2013

ROMANS: 5:12-21 ; LUKE 12:35-38

Blessed John Paul II

BLESSED JOHN PAUL II we commemorate for the first time today at this Eucharist, with a lively sense of his person.  His holiness of life was manifested in a constant dedication and courageous witness to the faith.  TheThe priestly service he consistently rendered to the Church in the face of a hostile, oppressive government was sustained by a marked simplicity and prayerful lifestyle that he maintained as bishop, cardinal, and during his papacy.  Each of us here in varying measure has been influenced by his personality, his holiness, and the teaching that he so adeptly communicated to the Church and to the world.  Our present Pope Francis recently announced that John Paul II along with Pope John XXIII is to be canonized in the spring of next year.

Traditionally, such canonization required prolonged investigation and extended scrutiny.  Popular acclaim of his sanctity that was expressed spontaneously already at the time of his funeral, has contributed to his early canonization.  His vast popularity, his striking energy and gifts of communication, and broad travels had achieved much to carry the Gospel message throughout the world, including non Christian peoples in Africa and Asia.  His love of God and his devoted service to the Lord Jesus, continued unabated in spite of the progressive sufferings of the Parkinson disease that he bore with the courage of faith, and that led to his death.  John Paul was energetic in his priestly ministry. He vividly illustrated obedience to our Lord's words in today's gospel: "Gird your loins and light your lamps . . . like servants who await their master's return . . . ."

PantocratorTraveling widely in service of his ministry and subject to heavy demands of office, yet he daily made extended time for prayer and meditation.  His dedication to prayer witnessed to the primacy of grace in our Christian life.  By his example he encouraged all of us to give primacy to prayerful union with God.  By making time in our daily life to create opportunity for entering into communion with God we too can make the whole of our day a service to God, lived in his presence.  These features of the Pope's pastoral life were so impressive that consideration of their nature made his sanctity manifest and account in large measure for the exceptional rapidity of the Church's seal on his life of faithful witness.

PantocratorThe words of Saint Paul that we heard in the first reading a few minutes ago give emphasis to the fundamental and all-pervading role of grace in our daily activities and encounters.  "Through the obedience of one person (Christ) the many will be made righteous."  Saint Paul goes on to point out that "as sin reigned in death, grace might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  This message of the apostle on the primacy of grace and the efficacy of its power governed the Pope's way of daily witnessing to the word of truth.  May it also govern our use of time and opportunity.

As we commemorate the person of Blessed John Paul II at this Eucharist we offer for the first time in his honor, we confidently ask his prayerful intercession for our own intentions and for the serious needs of the Church in these times of testing in our own country, as well as in Egypt and the other places where oppressive governments weigh heavily upon the faithful.   May Jesus, the God of peace, whom we receive at this altar, reign in our hearts and abide in us unto life everlasting.  Amen.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger