S. John Paul II Homil. 251
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. It is our privilege as members of the Church to gather around the table of our Lord Jesus Christ and to partake of his Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. This privilege is also a duty; following from the Lord’s command to his Apostles on the night before he suffered and died: "Do this in memory of me". Joined together in this Eucharistic assembly we find our identity as Catholics, since it is here that our union with Christ, as individuals and as a community, finds its most sublime expression: we are linked to Christ our Redeemer in his perfect act of praise, in his total self-sacrifice to the Father.
There can be no more appropriate gathering at the beginning of my visit to your country, dear Catholics of Thailand, than for us to join together in the name of Christ and to celebrate together this memorial of our Redemption. It is important for you to gather every Sunday in this way, for at Mass you discover over and over again your source of unity as brothers and sisters in Christ, closely bound one to another. You may form a small part of the population of your country and be a small flock of Christ’s followers, but Christ the Good Shepherd cares for you and watches over you with a special love. And as you join your hearts and minds to Christ in this Sacrifice, you are at the same time spiritually united with the whole Church of Christ, the universal assembly of believers, both living and dead, that constitutes the one Body of Christ.
2. As a Church you are constantly presented with the unique opportunity of reflecting on the mysterious nature of Divine Providence, which chooses you to hear Christ’s message and to bear witness to God’s love made manifest in the person of Jesus our Saviour. What kind of world is it in which God calls you to witness to Christ? One aspect of it was indicated to us by your Cardinal at the beginning of this Liturgy. You have the privilege of living in a Kingdom whose citizens enjoy religious freedom, where men and women are free to worship God according to the dictates of an upright conscience. For this situation - which corresponds to a universal right of all people - I join you in thanking God.
Added to this, you find yourselves in a world where the majority of your fellow citizens embrace Buddhism, that complex of religious beliefs and philosophical ideas which is rooted in Thai history, culture and psychology, and which profoundly influences your identity as a nation. To a certain extent one can say then that as people of Thailand you are heirs of the ancient and venerable wisdom contained therein.
3. How can you as Christians, members of the Catholic Church, who recognize Christ as the Saviour of the world, respond to Christ’s call of discipleship, living, as you do, immersed in a religious environment different from your own?
Sacred Scripture gives insights for an answer to this question. The second reading from the Letter of Saint James speaks of an earthly wisdom which is opposed to "the wisdom from above", which is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. Your cultural heritage as Thai people is intimately linked to the indigenous Buddhist tradition, which provides a fertile terrain for the seed of God’s word, proclaimed by Jesus Christ, to take root and grow. In the practice of Buddhism can be discerned a noble tendency to strive to separate oneself from an "earthly wisdom", in order to discover and achieve an interior purification and liberation. This aim is pursued through prayer and meditation, coupled with the practice of moral virtue. As the Second Vatican Council so clearly pointed out, the Church looks with sincere respect upon the religious wisdom contained in non-Christian traditions and rejects nothing that is true and holy in them (cf. Nostra Aetate NAE 2). The fruits of a "peaceable" and "gentle" wisdom are manifestly evident in the Thai character and are esteemed and respected by those who have the good fortune to meet you and come to know this spiritual quality within you.
4. As Thai people who are marked with the sign of Christian faith, you come to know this wisdom fully through the person and message of Jesus Christ. His wisdom is explained for you, and for all believers, in the Eight Beatitudes which Christ himself proclaims in today’s Gospel. These Beatitudes tell of God’s favour towards those who aspire to live under his rule.
The acceptance of this teaching of Jesus as a way of life is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, that Spirit "poured upon us from on high" (Is 32,15)which radically transforms the human heart and soul. The outpouring of the Spirit brings about the transformation of all creation, producing a condition wherein all can enjoy true happiness, the happiness of those who are truly "blessed". In this way we understand that wisdom is not primarily a human achievement: wisdom comes from God, and it then reveals itself in a good life.
5. The Christian life is lived through faith in the redeeming power of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ; it is the response of those who sincerely desire to follow the way of the Gospel outlined by the Beatitudes. How does this wisdom revealed by Christ manifest itself in the lives of those who experience the redeeming power of his Cross and Resurrection? Again our scriptural readings offer us light for meditation. Pre-eminent among the fruits which come from above is the gift of peace, the theme of today’s liturgy and the intention for which we offer this Mass. In our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we learn that peace will be the effect of righteousness. But it will come about only if the Spirit is "poured upon us from on high".
The whole Church is committed to praying for peace, to praying for that gift of God and to doing so in the most effective way possible: by participating in Christ’s perfect offering of himself as he intercedes for us with his heavenly Father. In the Eucharist we are made aware of our responsibility as Christians to pray constantly, especially as a community of faith, so that we may receive Christ’s gift of peace as the family of God gathered in the presence of the Father.
Our responsibility to pray for the gift of peace does not exempt us from the duty of taking positive, concrete action in working for peace. I speak here of the peace that comes from justice and love of neighbour and which is linked to the peace of Christ that comes from God. Our commitment to peace means resisting temptations to violence; it involves the constant mastery of the passions, respect for the dignity of others, compassion, meekness, and all those qualities which flow from a heart that is configured to the image of the heart of Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Here too, as people who are enriched by the Buddhist tradition of your country, you are endowed with a special sensitivity to the renunciation of violence in the vindication of personal rights, and so the Lord’s injunction to be peacemakers strikes a resonant chord in your minds and hearts, helping you not to fall victim to the many temptations to violence that haunt the world.
253 6. From this perspective we can better understand the meaning of Saint James’ words: "The harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (Iac. 3, 18). How can this happen? It takes place in the Christian by his or her acceptance of the way of life outlined by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. This programme is the new wisdom that comes from above and remains in sharp contrast to the wisdom of this world. It is opposed by materialism and hedonism.
The Beatitude "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" takes on particular relevance in this context. The true peacemaker is one who not only renounces the use of violence as the normal course of action, but who also has the courage to combat the enemies of peace. The peacemaker struggles, not with physical weapons or against another individual or nation, but against that selfishness, in all its forms, which impedes us from seeing others as brothers and sisters in the one human family. He fights against indifference or apathy in the face of poverty, pain or suffering, for in the Christian vision of human life these conditions neither justify fatalism nor are they signs of being accursed. Rather, they lead us to our Redemption when they are joined to the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our saving Lord, whose innocent suffering remains forever a sign of hope for all humanity.
7. Brothers and sisters in Christ: in every celebration of the Eucharist, Christ renews that gift which he made of himself, as Mediator and Reconciler, reuniting the scattered children of God, in order to bring the gift of peace to the entire human family. In the Mass Christ becomes our peace. And it is Jesus Christ our peace whom we desire to offer to the world.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Lord, grant us your peace!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. We are here this afternoon to celebrate a beautiful occasion. Twenty-three young men, called by God at Baptism and chosen in a special way for service in his Church, are being ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. This is an important moment for the entire Catholic Church, both of this generation and of all times. It is a further manifestation of God’s love for his people; the Good Shepherd never leaves his flock untended. At the same time, this ceremony has particular meaning for the Church in Thailand; it is a sign of spiritual maturity.This ordination represents the time of harvest, the joyful moment when the seeds of a divine vocation, sown by God and nurtured by families and teachers, bear fruit in the lives of the individual young men who stand before us today and who ask me, acting in the name of Christ and his Church, to confer upon them the sacramental grace of the Priesthood.
When I look around and see this Minor Seminary of the Archdiocese, and a little farther away the Major Seminary which is dedicated to Christ the Light of the World; when I think of the Minor Seminaries in nearly all the Dioceses of Thailand, as well as the Intermediate Seminary established by the Bishops; when I reflect on all the religious communities that rely on the Major Seminary for the training of their own candidates - when I see all these marvellous works, I can only think back on the humble beginnings of the first College at Ayudhaya in 1666. I praise and thank God for the many gifts he has bestowed upon you, especially through the foresight of your Bishops.
Here is the heart of the Church in Thailand, not only of the Archdiocese of Bangkok but of each local Church. Here you train, through prayer and study, the future priests of your country and you develop within them the sound traditions which will enable them to speak to the hearts of the Thai people, so that they in turn may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ "in the breaking of the bread" (Lc 24,35).
2. As co-workers with their Bishops and sharers in the ministry of Christ the Teacher, Priest and King, these twenty-three young men will exercise the priestly office in the Church. By their sacramental ordination they will be anointed in the Holy Spirit, signed with a special character, and so will be configured to Christ in such a way that they will be able to act in his name and in his person.
254 In describing to us features of the Messiah, the Prophet Isaiah presents to us at the same time an image of the priest who is configured to Christ: "Behold, my servant whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations" (Is 42,1). In bringing forth justice, Christ took on the characteristics of the Servant of Israel, and he was called upon to suffer and to sacrifice himself for the redemption of humanity.
The First Letter of Saint Peter is even more explicit in expressing the sacrificial dimension of Christ’s redeeming work: Christ "bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Petr. 2, 24). Here we see the extent of Christ’s self-sacrifice: he suffered death to free us from our sins so that we might know the newness of life in God.
3. The priest of the New Testament finds his identity in the person and mission of Christ. He continues to make visible Christ’s saving action. His consecration represents Christ’s total self-emptying. This priest is called to proclaim the Good News of salvation, to gather together and lead the community of believers, and to serve as a minister of the sacred mysteries. In the name of the Redeemer the priest reconciles sinners with God and with the Church in the Sacrament of Penance. By celebrating the Eucharist, the priest proclaims the Lord’s death and Resurrection in which Jesus himself confirms the new covenant in his blood.
In all of this, Christ is, as Saint Peter says, "the Shepherd and Guardian" of our souls (Cf. 1P 2,25). He is indeed the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep, who knows his sheep and whose sheep know him (cf. Io Jn 10,11-14).
Through sacramental ordination, the priest shares in a special way in the pastoral care of Christ for his Church. He does it in line with the mission of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah: "A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench . . . he will not fail or be discouraged" (cf. Is Is 42,3-4). With patience and humility he fulfils the function of Christ as Pastor and Head, exercising a spiritual power that is given to him for the purpose of building up Christ’s Body. By humbly placing himself at the service of those entrusted to his care, the priest is guided in all things by the will of him who wished none to be lost and all to be saved (cf. Io Jn 10,16)
4. My dear Deacons, young men about to be ordained to the Priesthood: Yours is a truly sublime vocation, endowed with a dignity that Christ himself has given it. It is a special gift of God, to be used for the good of the Church and the salvation of the world. Listen to the words of the Prophet Isaiah as he speaks of such a vocation: "I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations" (Is 42,6).
The Lord has taken you by the hand. He calls you by name. He gives you as a covenant to the people and a light to the nations. He chooses you to offer, in the person of Christ, the new covenant established in his Blood, and to spread the light of Christ’s saving message throughout the world.
Be faithful to this vocation. Be generous in your service. Follow the example of Christ, who came to serve and not be served. Accept as a special challenge the call to preach the Gospel to the people of your native land. Encourage and strengthen those who have already heard Christ’s message, and proclaim it boldly and perseveringly to those who have not yet come to believe. Your vocation requires of you a missionary spirit.
As priests in the Church, which is the universal sacrament of salvation, you are called to offer yourselves as a ransom for all, to follow in the footsteps of him who offered himself freely so that all might be set free. This means that you must remain permanently united with Christ through prayer, sacrifice, suffering and obedience to his will. It demands a generosity of spirit that will lead you to thank God each day for the gift of celibacy, which is both a sign of pastoral love and an incentive to it.
As you meditate on the need for the Church’s mission of salvation to be extended "to the ends of the earth" (Ac 1,8), I also know that you will strive to respond whole-heartedly to the invitation to exercise your ministry in Dioceses which are hampered by a shortage of vocations.
Dear brothers and sons, be constant in your love for Christ and his Church. As priests you will collaborate with Christ the Saviour; you are men of God’s pardon and mercy.Never fail to proclaim that mercy to those who need it most: the poor, the sick, the dying, the broken-hearted, and those who are trapped in sin. And show God’s mercy to your brother priests who, in moments of disappointment and hardship, may turn to you for encouragement and fraternal support. In a word, in everything you do, be another Christ to those whom you meet.
255 5. Dearly beloved people of Thailand, my brothers and sisters in Christ, these young men are about to be marked with the sign of Christ’s priestly office in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Pray for them: for their zeal and their personal happiness and for their perseverance as holy priests of Jesus Christ. Pray too for those who continue to make sacrifices so that other young men may hear the Lord’s voice and follow in his footsteps. Pray for good and numerous vocations to the priesthood, to the sisterhood and to the brotherhood. Invite Jesus to enter your homes, your schools, your youth movements, so that many young people may accept Christ’s call to leave everything and follow him.
In this hour of joy and thanksgiving let us raise our hearts to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, the High Priest of our salvation. It is he who has given the ministry of the Priesthood to his Church. It is he, Jesus Christ, who leads us to his Father, and who with the Father and the Holy Spirit is one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Act of entrustment to Mary
At the end of this Sacred Liturgy, in this moment of special grace, our hearts turn with great gratitude and joy to the holy Mother of God:
O Blessed Virgin Mary, I thank you for your maternal love for all your dear sons and daughters in Thailand. As Pastor of the universal Church, I entrust them all to your Immaculate Heart, asking you to watch over them always and to guide them in the ways of holiness and peace.
O Mary, Mother of priests, with filial devotion I entrust to you these newly ordained priests, whom your Son has called to be his friends and whom he is sending forth to proclaim the Good News of the Redemption. Keep them always faithful in generous service to God’s people. Draw them ever closer to your own Pure Heart and to the Sacred Heart of your Son.
O Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, at every step of human history you are near to the People of God, supporting them with your prayers and giving them courage to witness to the truth of the Gospel. Intercede today for all the clergy, religious and laity of Thailand, that they may be strong in faith and hope, and that they may persevere in the love of Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Dear Brothers in Christ,
1. It was just two years ago at this time that I had the joy of being in Scotland. And it seems to me that the words which I spoke in Bellahouston Park I can now repeat to you, the students and staff of the Pontifical Scots College: "Today marks another significant moment in the history of our salvation: the Successor of Peter comes to visit the spiritual children of Andrew! We are bound one to another by a supernatural brotherhood stronger than that of blood. Here and now we testify that we profess that identical faith in Jesus (the faith of Andrew), and we firmly hope that we too can lead others to him. This common profession of faith is the compelling motive behind my pastoral visit" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Homilia in «Bellahouston Park» occasione celebrationis liturgicae habita, 1, die 1 iun. 1982: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V, 2 (1982) 2064).
To lead others to Jesus explains why my predecessor Clement VIII established this College in 1600, and it explains why each of you came here. And today I have come in order to be with you and to profess together with you our faith in Jesus and in the mystery of his Ascension into heaven.
256 2. Today the Church celebrates the life that Jesus lives in heaven with his Father and in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Today the Church proclaims the glory of Christ her Head, and the hope that fills the entire Mystical Body. In the mystery of the Ascension the Church meditates on the immense love that the Father has for the Son: "He has put all things under his feet and has made him the read over all things for the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who Ells all in all" (Ep 1,22-23).
Precisely because we are the Body of Christ, we share the heavenly life of our Head. The Ascension of Jesus is the triumph of humanity, because humanity is united with God for ever, and for ever glorified in the person of the Son of God. Christ in glory will never allow himself to be separated from his Body. We are already united with him in his heavenly life because he has gone before us as our Head. Moreover, Christ confirms our right to be with him, and from his throne of grace he constantly infuses life - his own life - into our souls. And the instrument that he uses to do so is his own glorified humanity, with which we are united through faith and the sacraments.
Not only do we - the Church - share in the life of the glorified Head, but Christ the Head fully shares the pilgrim life of his Body and directs it and channels it to its rightful end in heavenly glory. And the more, my brothers, that you are united with Christ in the mystery of his Ascension - Quae sursum sunt quaerite! - the more sensitive you will be to the needs of Christ’s members who struggle in faith to acquire the vision of God’s countenance in glory.
3. From his place of glory Jesus is for ever our Mediator with the Father and he communicates to his Body the strength to live, as he does, totally for the Father. Exalted at God’s right hand as Leader and Saviour, Jesus dispenses forgiveness to humanity (Cf. Ac 5,31). In the mystery of his Ascension Jesus fulfills the priestly role assigned to him by his Father: to intercede for his members, "since he always lives to make intercession for them" (He 7,25). In reflecting on the Ascension of the Lord, you will find yourselves confirmed in your own vocation as intercessor for God’s people, in particular in your native Scotland.
By the power inherent in the liturgical celebration of the glorified Christ you will be able to fulfill worthily his last command of evangelization, given before the Ascension: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt 28,19-20). There is a real connection between the grace that Jesus infuses into your hearts today and your future mission as heralds of his Gospel. No apostle can forget that the Ascension is linked to the fact that the Holy Spirit will come, and that Christ will continue to be present in word and sacrament. Your whole mission to make Christ present.
The responsibility for the future of the Church in Scotland falls on your shoulders and those of your fellow-young people. But you can be sure that the glorified Christ will sustain you in your mission. The victory and triumph of his Ascension and of his exaltation at the right hand of the Father will be communicated to future generations in the Church through you and through your proclamation of his mystery. What a wonderful call you have received! What an exhilarating way to spend the only life you have!
4. Under so many aspects the Solemnity of the Ascension is something very personal for you. In revealing himself in glory, Jesus strengthens your faith in his divinity.He summons you to believe in him, who has been taken from your sight. At the same time the feast also becomes for you a celebration of hope and confidence because you have accepted the angels’ proclamation and you are absolutely convinced that "this Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven" (Ac 1,11). In the meanwhile you know that he remains with you, that he sends his Holy Spirit to dwell in his Church and that through the Church to speak to you and direct your hearts. You are confident because you know that "he will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him" (He 9,28).
The more your thoughts turn to the glorified Christ in heaven, the more you realize how all wisdom, holiness and justice belong to him and are found in him. And thus the feast becomes an occasion for great humility. Redemption and sanctification are due to his action and his word. His revealed plan of salvation transcends all human wisdom and elicits profound reverence and respect. Before the mystery of divine revelation human inadequacy becomes so evident. The human mind with its noble process of reasoning appears in all its limitations, and with its need to be assisted by the mystery of the Church’s Magisterium, through which the Spirit of the living Christ supplies the certainty which the human mind can never guarantee. And for this too the Church prays with Saint Paul in this her liturgy of the Ascension, that you may receive from God a spirit of wisdom and perception of what he himself reveals in the Church (cf. Eph Ep 1,17). Yes, from his throne of glory the Incarnate Word directs and forms you as you prepare for his priesthood.
5. Yours is a great privilege: to be in Rome and to be formed here in the apostolic faith, so that you can go back and proclaim the mystery of Christ in all its purity and power to your fellow Scots. This is the privilege and tradition that you share with Saint Ninian, the Protobishop of Scotland. Centuries before you, he walked the path that you are called to follow, and all Scotland in has been blessed by his fidelity, as it will be blessed by yours. Saint Ninian’s lasting contribution has been beautifully expressed: "Born of our Scottish race / God led thee forth by grace / To find in Rome / That pearl so richly priced / That faultless creed of Christ / And bear it home".
In the power of the Lord’s Ascension, which is your strength today, rededicate yourselves, dear brothers, to your priestly work, to your special call: to consecrate your youth and your entire lives to proclaiming and building up the Kingdom of heaven, thus giving glory to him who reigns for ever at the right hand of the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. And remember: "To find in Rome... that faultless creed of Christ and bear it home".
And may our Blessed Mother Mary, associated in her own glorious Assumption with the triumph of her Son, sustain you as you wait in joyful hope for the Coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God!
These words we take from the very heart of the Eucharistic liturgy. Eucharist means thanksgiving. Today, as we meet around this altar, our first desire is to give thanks - to give thanks with the Archdiocese of Saint John’s and with the whole Church throughout Newfoundland, as it celebrates the two hundredth anniversary of its establishment on the island. In this way we wish to express what is the most characteristic element of the Eucharistic liturgy.
Our sacrifice and our prayer in union with the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ - in the sacramental identification with him - is above all a great act of thanksgiving by the Church.
This thanksgiving has shaped the spiritual life of those who have been the disciples and confessors of the Redeemer in Canada from the very foundations, from the very roots.
The liturgy that we are celebrating is meant in a special way to express the fact that the sons and daughters of Newfoundland, Labrador and all of this land, rooted as they are in the mistery of Christ, cry aloud to God with full hearts: "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God".
2. We give thanks for all the richness of creation.
In particular for the richness that has been shared in by the succeeding generations in Canada. Both by the generations that lived here in the past, according to the principles of their original culture, and also by the generations that have come here from beyond the sea, gradually building up the structures of a new civilization and Canadian culture. We give thanks to the Lord for the opportunities that countless families have found here over the years, and for the freedom and hope that they have enjoyed.
And so we cry aloud with the Psalmist: "How good is the Lord to all, / compassionate to all his creature. / All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord, / and your friends shall repeat their blessing. / They shall speak of the glory of your reign and declare your might O God" (Ps 145,9-11).
258 And as we praise God for the beauty of nature found in this island and throughout all Canada let us reread with eyes of faith the testimony borne by created things: in this way our minds and hearts turn to him who on the seventh day saw what he had made and "it was very good" (Gn 1,31).
3. Our thanksgiving rises from created things to God himself.
We thank God for his existence: for the fact that he is God, for his Godhead, for his omnipotence and holiness, for his truth and love, for his eternal plan for the salvation of man and the world.
We thank the Father for the Son and the Holy Spirit. We thank the Son for the Father. We thank the Holy Spirit because through the love of the Father and the Son he is the uncreated Gift: the source of all the gifts of created grace.
The Apostle Paul writes: "This is what I pray, kneeling before the Father, from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name: Out of his infinite glory may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong" (Ep 3,14-16).
Man looks into his own heart, into "the hidden self", and he offers up thanksgiving to the very mystery of the Godhead. For he, man, has been created "in the image and likeness of God" (Gn 1,26), and he is now called for this reason to give particular thanksgiving. We give thanks to God for the fact that he is God in whom is found the eternal Model of our human essence. We thank him for the Godhead, for the inscrutable mystery of the Trinity, for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
4. We give thanks for everything that is the work and fruit of grace, whereby human hearts share in the intimate life of God himself.
For this is how Paul continues to write: ". . . so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and length, the height and depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with all the fullness of God" (Ep 3,17-19).
We give thanks to God for the fact that he is God: for this absolute fullness that he is.
And we also give thanks for this dimension of our humanity, which is our sharing in God’s nature, in the intimate life of God.
We give thanks for grace and holiness. In a particular way for the grace and holiness that in the course of the centuries has been shared in and continues to be shared in by the sons and daughters of this land: "Bless the God of all things, / the doer of great deeds everywhere, / who has exalted our days from the womb / and acted toward us according in his mercy" (Si 50,22).
259 5. Indeed, we give thanks for the fact that he, God, allows us, human beings, to share in the messianic mission of Jesus Christ, his eternal Son who became man. We thank him for the fact that he has made us the People of God and has sealed our mission on earth with the priestly, prophetic and royal seal through our sharing in the mission of Christ himself.
Christ says to us in today’s Gospel: "You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? . . . You are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lampstand where it shines for everyone in the house" (Mt 5,13 Mt 5,15).
These are eloquent words, demanding words. And in the light of these words we give thanks for our Christian vocation.
We wish to understand this vocation in all its different forms, and to penetrate it with the light of faith and of our life-blood. We want to fulfil it. We truly want to fulfil it!
How else can we express our thanks for the gift of our vocation in Jesus Christ?
6. We offer a very special act of thanksgiving at this time for our Christian families. In union with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, we thank the Father "from whom every family takes its name". We thank him:
- For all those many families throughout Canada whose lives reflect "the beauty and grandeur of the vocation to love and the service of life" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Familiaris Consortio FC 1).
- For the deep love that Christian spouses communicate to each other in the communion of married life, as they keep alive in the world an altogether special image of God’s love.
- For the lives of mutual fidelity lived by countless couples through the power of sacramental grace.
- For all those couples who generously endeavour to follow God’s plan for human love as expressed in the Church’s teaching in “Humanae Vitae” and “Familiaris Consortio”, and whose marriage is always open to new life; and for all those who help educate couples in Natural Family Planning.
- For the great and unique service given by parents in providing new members for the Mystical Body of Christ.
260 - For the day-in and day-out efforts made by fathers and mothers in educating their children to Christian maturity.
- For the families who amidst pain, sorrow and economic distress live lives of Christian hope.
- For the commitment of families, in accordance with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, to share actively in the mission of the Church, as a believing and evangelizing community and as a community in dialogue with God and in the service of man.
- For the efforts made by Christian families to help young people understand the dignity of marriage and to prepare themselves adequately for this vocation.
- For the renewed commitment of the Church to uphold and explain the sanctity and unity of the family, and for the generous love with which so many priests and religious expend their energies for the building up of family life.
- For the efforts of families who have experienced problems and difficulties, but who have persevered, being convinced that God’s everlasting and unbreakable love is expressed in the indissoluble covenant of their own sacramental marriage.
- For the special witness given to Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage by all spouses who suffer the pain of separation, abandonment or rejection.
- For the transmission of the Gospel message in Christian homes, and for the evangelization carried out by Christian families in their neighbourhoods and places of work.
- For those many families that pray together and End strength in worshipping God.
- For the families that embrace the Cross, and in Christian joy live their share in the Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus.
- Yes, we give thanks and praise to God our Father for all the Christian families - and they are a mighty legion - who listen to those life-giving words of Jesus Christ his Son: "Your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven" (Mt 5,16).
261 7. Puissent toutes les familles chrétiennes du monde, et puissionsnous tous aussi, répondre à notre vocation chrétienne, chacun selon les dons reçus! Chacun de nous, par le témoignage de ses bonnes oeuvres. Que chacun de nous entende l’appel à rendre gloire à notre Père qui est aux cieux, à rendre grâce au Seigneur notre Dieu!
Rendre grâce, c’est manifester la gloire de Dieu en chacun de nous. L’homme, que Dieu a placé au milieu du monde visible
- l’homme que Dieu a associé au mystère de la création et au mystère de la rédemption par sa grâce - cet homme est appelé à la gloire. Tandis qu’il manifeste - en rendant grâce - la gloire de Dieu qui est présente en toutes choses, l’homme reçoit en lui-même l’assurance de la gloire à venir qui sera révélée en lui.
Beloved brothers and sisters of Newfoundland, Labrador and all Canada: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God!
It is right to give him thanks and praise. Amen.
S. John Paul II Homil. 251