October 22, 2014 - Feast of St. John Paul II:


Saint Paul, as he opens his Epistle to the Ephesians, prepares his readers for a communication that is replete with teachings of major import for the content of our Catholic faith as well as for the interior life of the faithful.  Among the first points to which he refers so as to stimulate our attentiveness, and making us more alert to his message is stated in these terms: "He [God] has made known to us the mystery of his purpose."(Eph.1:9) The implications of this revelation are such that this statement represents an invitation to engage in a lifelong effort that involves our commitment to action based on meditative prayer and study.

St. Paul makes it clear in this same epistle that in his response to the revelation he refers to in this writing, he himself exemplifies the kind of response God requires of each of us.  He further assures us that we have been given the revelation that opens up to us the prospect of belonging to God's family for all eternity.  "Because of the great love he had for us . . . he brought us to life with Christ . . . and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus." So true is it that God has shown us his mercy that he has not only forgiven our sins but has adopted us as sons.  He makes the point explicit that this merciful gift of God is intended to stimulate a practical response on our part: "We are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God has prepared in advance, so that we should live in them."

This teaching of the apostle to the Gentiles is well suited for today's liturgy in which we commemorate for the first time the person of Saint John Paul II.  He was from his early years as a seminarian and then as a priest acquainted with the sufferings of our Savior.  Living in a time of war and under an oppressive government in his occupied country, he not only meditated and studied the mystery revealed by Christ but put it into practice in his daily work and contacts.  As demanding as his ministry was as bishop and then as Pope he maintained a life of prayer and study that rendered him all the more effective in his pastoral labors.  He had a gift of communicating the Spirit of the Gospel as well as its teaching that was the fruit of his daily fidelity to worship and prayer.  He learned courage that he communicated to so many others in difficult circumstances from his steadily keeping the Lord prominently dominant in his activity.

May his intercession and the prayer too of Saint Paul obtain for each of us here some effective share in the same Mystery of Christ that the apostle brought to the devoted attention of the community at Ephesus.  As the Lord Jesus renews at our altar this sacrifice by which he gives us immediate access to the great Mystery of Salvation, let us resolve to follow in the footsteps of our saintly predecessors, Paul of Tarsus and Saint John Paul II, Bishop of Cracow and Pope of Rome.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger