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Monday, November 5, 2012

CHRISTIANS' FIRM HOPE IN THE RESURRECTION


Vatican City, 3 November 2012 (VIS) – This morning in St. Peter's Basilica the Holy Father presided at Mass for the souls of cardinals and bishops who died during the course of last year. The Pope recalled, in particular, Cardinals John Patrick Foley, Anthony Bevilacqua, Jose Sanchez, Ignace Moussa Daoud, Luis Aponte Martinez, Rodolfo Quezeda Toruno, Eugenio de Araujo Sales, Paul Shan Kuo-Hsi, Carlo Maria Martini and Fortunato Baldelli.

Extracts from his homily are given below:

“Burial places constitute a sort of assembly, where the living can encounter the deceased and consolidate the ties of a communion which death was not able to break. And here in Rome, in those unique cemeteries, the catacombs, we are aware as in no other place of the profound links with ancient Christianity, which we experience as close to us.

“When we enter the Roman catacombs – or the cemeteries of our cities and towns – it is as if we cross an intangible threshold and enter into communication with those whose past is there, a past made up of joy and pain, defeat and hope. This occurs because death concerns humanity today exactly as it did then; and even if many things from the past have become foreign to us, death has remained the same”.

“But how can we Christians respond to the question of death? We respond with our faith in God, with a firm hope based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus death opens the way to life, eternal life, which is not infinite repetition of the present, but something completely new. Faith tells us that the true immortality to which we aspire is not an idea, a concept, but rather a relationship of full communion with the living God: it means abiding in His hands, in His love, and in Him becoming at one with all our brothers and sisters whom He created and redeemed. ... This is life which reaches fullness in God; a life that we can now only glimpse just as we catch sight of a clear sky through the fog”.

“The pastors we remember today served the Church with faith and love, at times facing difficult challenges in order to ensure the flock entrusted to their care received the necessary care and attention. In the variety of their respective gifts and tasks, they showed perseverance and vigilance, wisdom and zealous dedication to the Kingdom of God, offering a valuable contribution in the period following Vatican Council II, a time of renewal throughout the Church”.

The Eucharistic banquet they attended, first as the faithful and then, daily, as ministers, foretells most eloquently what the Lord promised in the Sermon on the Mount: the possession of the Kingdom of Heaven, participation in the banquet of the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us pray that this might be accomplished for everyone. Our prayer is nourished by the firm hope that 'does not disappoint', because it is guaranteed by Christ Who chose to experience death in order to triumph over it through the prodigious event of the Resurrection”.

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