S. John Paul II Homil. 1002
1002 Since the day of Pentecost, the Church has guarded these words of Christ as a precious treasure. Written on the page of the Gospel, they have endured to our own day. Now we have the responsibility of passing them on to future generations not as a dead letter but as a living spring of knowledge of the truth about God and man – a spring of true wisdom. In this context, the Council’s exhortation to all the faithful becomes especially pertinent – “to learn 'the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ' (Ph 3,8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. 'Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ (Saint Jerome)” (Dei Verbum DV 25). Therefore, when in the liturgy I take the Book of the Gospels in my hands and raise it in blessing over the assembly and the entire Church, I do so in the hope that it will continue to be the Book of Life for every believer, every family and for entire societies. In the same hope, I urge you today: Cross into the new millennium with the Book of the Gospels! Let there be one in every Polish home! Read and meditate upon it! Let Christ speak! “O that today you would listen to his voice. Harden not your hearts” (Ps 95,8).
5. Through twenty centuries, the Church has turned to the pages of the Gospels in order to read as precisely as possible what God has wished to reveal in them. The Church has penetrated the deepest meaning of the words and events, has formulated the truths contained in them, declaring them to be sure and salvific. The saints have put these truths into practice and have communicated the experience of their encounter with the word of Christ. Thus the Tradition of the Church develops, founded upon the witness of the Apostles. When we read the Gospel today, we cannot detach it from this centuries-long heritage.
I mention this because there is the temptation to interpret Sacred Scripture apart from the Church’s long tradition of faith, using modes of interpretation proper to contemporary literature or journalism. That creates the danger of over- simplification, of falsification of revealed truth, and even the adaptation of that truth to the demands of an individualist philosophy of life or an ideology, accepted a priori. Saint Peter the Apostle opposed attempts such as this when he wrote: “First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” (2P 1,20). “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God . . . has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone, whose authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (Dei Verbum, DV 10).
I am glad that the Church in Poland is effectively helping the faithful to know the contents of Revelation. I know what importance pastors attach to the Liturgy of the Word at Mass and to catechesis. I give thanks to God that in parishes, communities and ecclesial movements, biblical circles and discussion groups are emerging and growing all the time. But those who assume responsibility for an authoritative explanation of revealed truth must trust not in their own, often fallible, intuition but in sound knowledge and unyielding faith.
How can we fail at this point to express our thanks to all the pastors who, with dedication and humility, do the work of proclaiming the word of God! How can we not mention the countless host of Bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and lay catechists, who fervently, and often despite difficulties, give themselves to this prophetic mission of the Church? How can we not say thanks to the exegetes and theologians who with admirable commitment explore the sources of Revelation, offering competent help to pastors. Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the good God reward your apostolic toil with his blessing! “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who announce peace, who brings tidings of good, who proclaim salvation” (Is 52,7).
6. Blessed also are those who with an open heart benefit from such a service. They are truly “those . . . who hear the word of God and keep it”. In fact they experience this special grace by which the seed of the word of God falls not among thorns but on fertile soil and brings forth abundant fruit. This is the action of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who precedes and assists, touching hearts and turning them to God, opening the eyes of the mind and making it “easy for all to accept and believe the truth” (Dei Verbum, DV 5). They are blessed because, discerning and doing the Father’s will, they endlessly find the solid foundation for the building of their lives.
To those who must cross the threshold of the third millennium, we want to say: Build your house upon rock! Build on rock the house of your personal and social life! And rock is the Christ – Christ living in his Church. The Church has been in this land for a thousand years. It came to you with the ministry of Saint Adalbert. It grew on the foundation of his martyr’s death and it survives still. The Church is Christ living in each one of us. Christ is the vine and we are the branches. He is the foundation and we are the living stones.
7. “Stay with us, Lord” (Lc 24,29), said the disciples who met the Risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, and their hearts burned within them while he talked to them and opened to them the Scriptures (cf. Lk Lc 24,32). Today we want to repeat their words: “Stay with us, Lord!” We have met you on the long journey of our history. Our forebears met you in one generation after another. You strengthened them with your word through the life and ministry of your Church.
Lord, stay with those who will come after us! We want you to be with them, as you have been with us. This is our desire and this is what we ask.
Stay with us when evening comes! Stay as the time of history approaches the end of the second millennium.
Stay with us and help us walk always along the path that leads to the Father’s house.
1003 Stay with us in your word – in that word that becomes sacrament: the Eucharist of your presence.
We wish to hear your word and do it.
We wish to live in your blessing.
We wish to be among the blessed who “hear the word of God and keep it”.
Sunday, 6 June 1999
1. “We honour your Heart, O Jesus . . .”.
I thank Divine Providence that together with all of you here present I am able to give praise and glory to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the most perfect revelation of the paternal love of God. I am glad that the devout practice of reciting or singing the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus every day during the month of June is very much alive in Poland and continues to be followed.
I greet everyone gathered here this Sunday afternoon. In a special way I greet Bishop Andrzej, Pastor of this Diocese, his Auxiliary Bishop and the representatives of the Polish Bishops, the priests, consecrated men and women and all the People of God. I extend a cordial welcome to the pilgrims from Russia, from the District of Kaliningrad, who are present here with their Archbishop, Tadeusz. I also greet the faithful of the Greek Catholic Church. And I greet all the members of the young Church in Elblag, which is particularly linked to the figure of Saint Adalbert. Not far from here, according to tradition, he gave his life for Christ. In the course of history, the death of this martyr has produced in this land abundant fruits of holiness. In this place I wish to remember Blessed Dorota of Matowy, wife and mother of nine children, and also the Servant of God Regina Protmann, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Catherine, whom — God-willing — the Church will raise to the glory of the altars during this pilgrimage through my ministry in Warsaw. Another one to be enrolled in the ranks of the Blessed will be a son of this land, Father Wladyslaw Demski, who gave his life in the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen, publicly defending the cross which was sacrilegiously profaned by the executioners. You have received this magnificent spiritual heritage and you must care for it, develop it and build the future of this land and of the Church in Elblag on the solid foundation of faith and religious life.
2. “Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us”.
Thus we invoke Jesus in the Litany. Everything that God wanted to tell us about himself and about his love he placed in the Heart of Jesus, and by means of that Heart he has told us everything. We find ourselves before an inscrutable mystery. In Jesus’ Heart we read the eternal divine plan of the world’s salvation. It is a plan of love.
1004 We have come here today to contemplate the love of the Lord Jesus, his goodness which is compassionate towards every person; to contemplate his Heart blazing with love for the Father, in the fulness of the Holy Spirit. Christ loves us and reveals his Heart to us as the fount of life and holiness, the source of our redemption. In order to have a deeper understanding of this invocation we must turn to Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman in the little town of Sicar, at the well which had been there since the time of the Patriarch Jacob. She had come to draw water. Jesus said to her: “Give me a drink”, and she answered him: “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” She then received Jesus’ response: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water . . . the water that I shall give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (cf. Jn Jn 4,1-14).
Jesus is the source; it is from him that divine life in man finds its beginning. To have this life, we need only approach him and remain in him. And what is this life if not the beginning of human holiness, the holiness which is in God and which man can reach with the help of grace? All of us wish to drink from the divine Heart, which is the source of life and holiness.
3. “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times” (Ps 106,3).
Brothers and Sisters, meditating on God’s love, revealed in the Heart of his Son, requires a consistent response on our part. We have not been called only to contemplate the mystery of Christ’s love, but take part in it. Christ says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14,15). He thus places before us a great calling and at the same time a condition: if you want to love me, keep my commandments, keep God’s holy law, walk in the way that I have shown you.
God’s will is that we keep the commandments, that is, the law of God given to Israel on Mount Sinai through Moses. Given to all people everywhere. We know the commandments. Many of you repeat them everyday in prayer. That is a very good and devout practice. Let us repeat them now, as they are found in the Book of Exodus, to confirm and renew what we remember:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.
You shall not kill.
1005 You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife” (cf. Ex Ex 20,2-17).
This is the foundation of the morality given to man by the Creator: the Decalogue, the ten commandments of God pronounced resolutely on Mount Sinai and confirmed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, in the context of the eight Beatitudes. The Creator, who at the same time is the supreme law-giver, has inscribed on the human heart the whole order of truth. This order determines what is good, provides a foundation for the moral order and constitutes the basis of the dignity of man created in God’s image. The commandments were given for the good of mankind, for man’s personal good and the good of family and society. They are truly the way for all people. The material order by itself is not enough. It must be completed and enriched by the supernatural order. Thanks to this, life takes on a new meaning and man is made better. Life, in fact, needs the power that comes from divine, supernatural values; only then does it take on its full splendour.
Christ confirmed this law of the Old Covenant. In the Sermon on the Mount he spoke clearly to his hearers: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Mt 5,17). Christ came to fulfil the law, above all to give it its proper content and meaning, and to show its full significance and depth: the law is perfect when it is pervaded by love of God and love of neighbour. It is love that determines man’s moral perfection and his likeness to God. “He who has my commandments and keeps them”, says Christ, “he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14,21). Today’s liturgical celebration dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds us of God’s love, for which man yearns intensely. It shows us that the practical response to this love is the keeping of God’s commandments in our daily lives. God does not intend that they should grow dim in our memory but that they should remain forever impressed on people’s consciences so that, knowing and keeping the commandments, they “might have eternal life”.
4. “Happy are they who practise righteousness”.
The Psalmist refers thus to those who follow the path of the commandments and keep them to the end (cf. Ps Ps 119,32-33). Keeping the divine law, in fact, is the basis for obtaining the gift of eternal life, that is, the happiness that never ends. To the question of the rich young man, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Mt 19,16), Jesus responds: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19,17). This response by Jesus is particularly important in our modern reality, in which many people live as though there were no God. The temptation to organize the world and one’s own life without God or even in opposition to God, without his commandments and without the Gospel, is a very real temptation and threatens us too. When human life and the world are built without God, they will eventually turn against man himself. Breaking the divine commandments, abandoning the path traced out for us by God, means falling into the slavery of sin, and “the wages of sin is death” (Rm 6,23).
We find ourselves face to face with the reality of sin. Sin is an offence against God, it is being disobedient to him, to his law, to the moral norms which God has given to man, inscribing them on the human heart, confirming and perfecting them by Revelation. Sin pits itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from him. Sin is “love of self carried to the point of contempt for God”, as Saint Augustine put it (De Civitate Dei, 14, 28). Sin is a great evil in all its many dimensions. Starting with original sin, to the personal sins committed by each person, to social sins, the sins which weigh heavily on the history of the entire human family.
We must be constantly aware of this great evil, we must constantly cultivate the subtle sensitivity and clear consciousness of the seeds of death contained in sin. This is what is commonly known as the sense of sin. Its source is to be found in man’s moral conscience; it is linked to the knowledge of God, to the experience of union with the Creator, Lord and Father. The more profound this awareness of union with God — strengthened by a person’s sacramental life and by sincere prayer — the clearer the sense of sin is. The reality of God lays open and sheds light on the mystery of man. We must do all that we can to make our consciences more sensitive, and to guard them from becoming deformed or imperceptive.
1006 We see what great tasks God has put before us. We must truly form our humanity in the image and likeness of God, to become people who love the law of God and want to live according to it. The Psalmist cries out: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Ps 51,1-2). Is this not for us a touching example of the man who presents himself repentant before God? He desires metanoia for his own heart, so that he may become a new creature, different, transformed by God’s power.
Saint Adalbert stands before us. We feel his presence here because in this land he gave his life for Christ. For a thousand years he has been telling us, by the witness of his martyrdom, that holiness is attained by sacrifice, that there is no room here for compromise, that we must be faithful to the end, that we must have the courage to protect the image of God in our souls even if it means paying the ultimate price. His martyr’s death is a reminder to all that by dying to evil and sin they will enable the new man to come to birth in themselves, the man of God who keeps the Lord’s commandments.
5. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is the source of life, since by means of it victory over death was achieved. It is also the source of holiness, since in it sin — the enemy of man’s spiritual development — is defeated. The Heart of the Lord Jesus is the starting-point of the holiness of each one of us. From the Heart of the Lord Jesus let us learn the love of God and understanding of the mystery of sin — mysterium iniquitatis.
Let us make acts of reparation to the Divine Heart for the sins committed by us and by our fellow men. Let us make reparation for rejecting God’s goodness and love.
Let us draw close each day to this fount from which flow springs of living water. Let us cry out with the Samaritan woman “Give us this water”, for it wells up to eternal life.
Heart of Jesus, burning flame of love,
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness,
Heart of Jesus, expiation for our sins
— have mercy on us. Amen.
Monday, 7 June 1999
1007 1. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5,10).
We have just heard the words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. To whom do they refer? They refer above all to Christ himself. He is poor, he is meek, he is a peacemaker, he is merciful, and he too is persecuted for righteousness’ sake. This Beatitude in particular makes us think of the events of Good Friday. Christ was condemned to death like a criminal and then crucified. On Calvary it seemed he was abandoned by God and given over to the scorn of men.
The Gospel preached by Christ then underwent a terrible test: “He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross, and we will believe in him” (Mt 27,42), shouted those who witnessed the event. Christ does not descend from the Cross because he is faithful to his Gospel. He suffers human injustice. For only in this way can he bring about man’s justification. He wanted the words of the Sermon on the Mount to be applied first of all to himself: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Mt 5,11-12).
Christ is the great prophet. In him all prophecy is fulfilled, for all prophecy pointed to him. In him at the same time the definitive prophecy opens up. He is the one who suffers persecution for righteousness’ sake, fully aware that it is precisely this persecution which opens to humanity the doors of eternal life. Henceforth the Kingdom of heaven is to belong to those who will believe in him.
2. I thank God that the itinerary of my pilgrimage includes Bydgoszcz, the largest urban center of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. I greet all of you who have come to take part in this Eucharistic celebration. In particular I greet Archbishop Henryk, the Pastor of the Church of Gniezno, and the Auxiliary Bishops. I express my joy at the presence here of the visiting Cardinals from Berlin, Cologne and Vienna, as well as the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops of Poland. I greet the clergy, the consecrated persons and the pilgrims who have come from elsewhere in Poland, as well as all those who are not able to be present at this Holy Mass, especially the sick.
Two years ago, in Gniezno, I had an opportunity to thank the Lord, the Triune God, for the gift of Saint Adalbert’s fidelity even to the supreme sacrifice of martyrdom and for the blessed fruits which that death brought not only to our homeland but also to the whole Church. On that occasion I said: “Saint Adalbert is always with is. He has remained in Gniezno of the Piasts and in the universal Church, surrounded by the glory of martyrdom. And from the perspective of the Millennium he seems to speak to us today with the words of Saint Paul: 'Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents' (Ph 1,27-28) ... Today we re-read once more, after a thousand years, this testament of Paul and Adalbert. We ask that their words be fulfilled in our own generation too. For in Christ we have been granted the grace not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake, since we have sustained the conflict of which Adalbert has left us his witness (cf. Phil Ph 1,29-30)” (Homily, 3 June 1997).
I wish to reconsider this message in the light of the Gospel Beatitude, which includes everyone who is ready to be “persecuted” for the sake of righteousness. Poland has never lacked such confessors of Christ. Nor did the city on the Brda River lack them either. In the last decades Bydagoszcz has been marked in a particular way by “persecution for righteousness’ sake". For here, in the first days of the Second World War, the Nazis carried out the first public executions of the city’s defenders. The Old Market of Bydgoszcz is the symbol of this. Another tragic place is the so-called “Valley of Death” in Fordon. How can we fail to remember on this occasion Bishop Michal Kozal, who before becoming the Auxiliary Bishop of Wloclawek was a zealous pastor in Bydagoszcz. He died a martyr’s death in Dachau, bearing witness to his unshakable fidelity to Christ. Many persons connected with this city and this land met a similar death in the concentration camps. God alone knows the exact places of their torture and sufferings.
The Servant of God, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, knew how to appreciate the eloquence of these events. When in 1973, after numerous attempts, he obtained permission from the Communist authorities of the time to build in Bydgoszcz the first Church after the Second World War, he gave it an unusual name: “The Holy Polish Brethren Martyrs”. The Primate of the Millennium wanted to express in this way the conviction that the land of Bydgoszcz, tested by “persecution for righteousness’ sake”, was a fitting place for such a Church. It commemorates all the nameless Poles who during the more than thousand-year history of Polish Christianity gave their lives for the Gospel of Christ and for the homeland, beginning with Saint Adalbert. Significant too is the fact that Father Jerzy Popieluszko set out from this very Church on his last journey. This history echoes the words spoken during the recitation of the Rosary: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Ph 1,29).
3. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”.
To whom then do these words refer? To the many, many people to whom it was granted in the course of human history to suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness. We know that the first three centuries after Christ were marked by terrible persecutions, especially under certain Roman Emperors, from Nero to Diocletian. And although the persecutions ceased from the time of the Edict of Milan on, they nonetheless flared up again at different times in history in many parts of the world.
Our century too has written a great martyrology. I myself, in the course of the twenty years of my papacy, have raised to the glory of the altars many groups of martyrs: Japonese, French, Vietnamese, Spanish, Mexican. And how many martyrs there were during the time of the Second World War and under Communist totalitarianism! They suffered and gave their lives in the death camps of Hitler or those of the Soviets. In a few days, in Warsaw, I will beatify 108 martyrs who gave their lives for the faith in the concentration camps. Now is the time to remember all these victims and to grant them the honour which is their due. These are “the martyrs, many of them nameless, 'unknown soldiers' as it were of God’s great cause”, as I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente (No. 37). And it is good that we speak of them in Poland, since this country had a special role in this contemporary martyrology. It is good that we speak of them in Bydgoszcz! All gave testimony of fidelity to Christ in spite of sufferings which horrify us by their cruelty. Their blood was poured out on our land and made it fertile for growth and for the harvest. That same blood continues to bring forth fruit a hundredfold for our nation, which perseveres faithfully alongside Christ and the Gospel. Let us persevere unceasingly in union with them. Let us thank God that they emerged victorious from their labours: “God ... tried them like gold in the furnace, and like a sacrificial offering he accepted them” (Sg 3,6). They represent for us a model to be followed. From their blood we ought to draw strength for the sacrifice of our own life, which we must offer to God each day. They are an example for us, so that, like them, we may give a courageous witness of fidelity to the Cross of Christ.
1008 4. “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you ... on my account” (Mt 5,11).
Christ does not promise an easy life to those who follow him. Instead, he proclaims that, by living according to the Gospel, they are to become a sign of contradiction. If he himself suffered persecution, so too will his disciples: “Beware of men”, he says, “for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues” (Mt 10,17).
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Every Christian, united to Christ through the grace of Holy Baptism, has become a member of the Church and “no longer is his own” (cf. 1Co 6,19), but belongs to the one who died and rose for our sake. From that moment on, the baptized enter into a particular bond of community with Christ and his Church. They therefore have the duty of professing before others the faith they have received from God through the Church. At times this demands great sacrifice on our part, to be offered each day and sometimes for an entire lifetime. This firm perseverance alongside Christ and his Gospel, this readiness to face “sufferings for righteousness’ sake”, often involve acts of heroism and can take the form of an authentic martyrdom, carried out every day and at every moment of life, drop by drop, until the final “it is finished”.
A believer “suffers for righteousness’ sake” when, in exchange for his fidelity to God, he experiences humiliations, maltreatment, derision from his own, and misunderstanding even from the persons dearest to him. When he exposes himself to opposition, he risks unpopularity or other unpleasant consequences. Yet he is always ready for any sacrifice, since “we must obey God rather than men” (Ac 5,29). Alongside public martyrdom, which takes place before the eyes of many, how often does a hidden martyrdom take place in the depths of people’s hearts: there is a martyrdom of the body and a martyrdom of the spirit; a martyrdom of our vocation and of our mission; a martyrdom of the struggle with oneself and the victory over oneself. In the Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 Incarnationis Mysterium I wrote: “The believer who has seriously pondered his Christian vocation, including what Revelation has to say about the possibility of martyrdom, cannot exclude it from his own life’s horizon” (No. 13).
Martyrdom is a great and radical test for man, the supreme test of being human, the proof of man’s dignity before God himself. Yes, it is a great test for man, which takes place in the eyes of God himself, but also before the eyes of a world forgetful of God. In this test, man wins the victory when he allows himself to be sustained by the power of grace and becomes an eloquent witness to that power.
Does not a mother find herself before a similar test when she chooses to sacrifice herself in order to save the life of her child? How numerous were and are these heroic mothers in our society. We thank them for their example of love, which does not shrink from the supreme sacrifice.
Does not a believer find himself before a test of this sort when he defends the right to religious freedom and to freedom of conscience? I am thinking here of all those brothers and sisters who during the persecutions against the Church bore witness to their fidelity to God. We need only recall the recent history of Poland and the difficulties and persecutions to which the Church in Poland and those who believed in God were subjected. It was a great test for human consciences, an authentic martyrdom of faith, because it called for faith to be professed before men. It was a time of trial, often quite painful. To many persons the words of the Book of Wisdom could be fully applied: “God ... tried them like gold in the furnace, and like a sacrificial offering he accepted them” (Sg 3,6). Today we wish to honour them because they were not afraid to face this trial and because they showed us the path to take towards the new millennium. They are a great inspiration for us. By their lives they show that the world needs such “fools for God’s sake”, who walk the earth like Christ, like Adalbert, Stanislaus, or Maximilian Maria Kolbe and many others. The world needs people who have the courage to love and do not retreat before any sacrifice, in the hope that one day it will bear abundant fruit.
5. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5,12).
Such is the Gospel of the eight Beatitudes. All those people - far and near, of other nations as well as our own - having been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, became one with Christ. As we celebrate the Eucharist, which makes present the sacrifice of the Cross offered on Calvary, we are surrounded by all those who, like Christ, were persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. They have already entered into their reward.
In our prayer we also embrace those who are still being put to the test. Christ says to them: “Rejoice and be glad”, because you share not only in my sufferings but also in my glory and my resurrection.
Indeed, “rejoice and be glad”, all you who are ready to suffer for righteousness’ sake, for your reward is great in heaven! Amen.
S. John Paul II Homil. 1002