S. John Paul II Homil. 636
637 Sir John Guise Stadium, Port Moresby
Tuesday, 17 January 1995
Ol brata na susa bilong mi, Tenkyu tru long bikpela welkam yupela I givim long mi hastede long ples balus. Mi lukim bilas bilong ol manmeri ol I welkamim mi, na bel bilong mi I kirap tru. Bilas bilong yupela ol pipel bilong Papua Niugini I nais moa moa yet.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"Rejoice... insofar as you share Christís sufferings" (1P 4,13).
1. Today, the People of God in Papua New Guinea repeat these words of the Apostle Peter with fervent hearts. You rejoice because the Universal Church recognizes that your fellow countryman, Peter To Rot, shared Christís sufferings to the point of martyrdom and has been found worthy of being numbered among the Blessed.
With the joy which this occasion brings, I greet the People of God in Papua New Guinea. I thank Archbishop Kurongku and the whole Archdiocese of Port Moresby for the warm welcome given to me. Archbishop Hesse and the Catholic community of Rabaul would have liked this Beatification to be held in the place where Blessed Peter To Rot lived and was martyred. With love and solidarity, my thoughts turn to all the inhabitants of New Britain Ė those present here and the great majority unable to attend Ė who have been affected by the recent volcanic eruption. I gladly greet all my Brother Bishops, all the priests, Religious and laity of this land and of the Solomon Islands, and those who have come from other Islands of the vast Pacific, and from Australia and New Zealand. I extend my hand in friendship to our Brothers and Sisters of other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities. I thank all the civil authorities for their presence at this solemn ceremony.
The first Blessed from Papua New Guinea begins a new epoch in the history of the People of God in this country.Martyrdom has always been a part of the pilgrimage of the People of God through history. In the Old Testament Reading of this Mass, the Second Book of Maccabees tells the story of Eleazarís unflinching fidelity to the holy law of God, his readiness to accept death rather than compromise with evil. Faced with the supreme test, he says: "Although I could have escaped death, I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging, but also suffering it with joy in my soul because of my devotion to God" (Mc 6,30).
Likewise in the New Covenant. Beginning with the deacon Stephen (cf. Acts. Ac 7,54-60) and the Apostle James (Ibid. 12:1-2), the New Testament records that a "great cloud of witnesses" (cf. Heb. He 12,1) gave their lives in order to profess their faith in Christ and their uncompromising love for him. And down the centuries, glorious pages of the Churchís Martyrology have been written in every generation. The sons and daughters of many Churches in Asia are inscribed in "the archives of truth written in letters of blood" (Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 2474). I myself have had the grace of canonizing the Korean and Vietnamese Martyrs. We can also recall Saint Paul Miki and his Companions, martyred in Japan; Lorenzo Ruiz, the first saint of the Philippines; and Saint Peter Chanel who suffered a martyrís death in the Islands of the Pacific.
Throughout this century the "faithful witnesses" have been present in great numbers (Cf. John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 37). The wars, concentration camps and intolerance of our own time have yielded a rich harvest of martyrs in many parts of the world! Also in Papua New Guinea where there were many Christians belonging to the various Churches and ecclesial communities who gave the supreme witness. Today your fellow countryman, Peter To Rot, an honoured son of the Tolai people, a catechist from New Britain, has been listed among them. The Church everywhere sings praise to God for this new gift.
2. The sufferings caused by the recent tragic eruption have drawn the Christian community of New Britain closer to the Martyr Peter To Rot. In Godís saving plan, "suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the powers of the Redemption" (John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, 27). Just as the Lord Jesus saved his people by loving them "to the end" (Jn 13,1), "even to death on a cross" (cf. Phil. Ph 2,8), so also he continues to invite each disciple to suffer for the Kingdom of God. When united with the redemptive Passion of Christ, human suffering becomes an instrument of spiritual maturity and a magnificent school of evangelical love.
638 3. Blessed Peter understood the value of suffering. Inspired by his faith in Christ, he was a devoted husband, a loving father and a dedicated catechist known for his kindness, gentleness and compassion. Daily Mass and Holy Communion, and frequent visits to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, sustained him, gave him wisdom to counsel the disheartened, and courage to persevere until death. In order to be an effective evangelizer, Peter To Rot studied hard and sought advice from wise and holy "big men". Most of all he prayed Ė for himself, for his family, for his people, for the Church. His witness to the Gospel inspired others, in very difficult situations, because he lived his Christian life so purely and joyfully. Without being aware of it, he was preparing throughout his life for his greatest offering: by dying daily to himself, he walked with his Lord on the road which leads to Calvary (cf. Mt. Mt 10,38-39).
4. During times of persecution the faith of individuals and communities is "tested by fire" (1P 1,7). But Christ tells us that there is no reason to be afraid. Those persecuted for their faith will be more eloquent than ever: "it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you" (Mt 10,20). So it was for Blessed Peter To Rot. When the village of Rakunai was occupied during the Second World War and after the heroic missionary priests were imprisoned, he assumed responsibility for the spiritual life of the villagers. Not only did he continue to instruct the faithful and visit the sick, he also baptized, assisted at marriages and led people in prayer.
When the authorities legalized and encouraged polygamy, Blessed Peter knew it to be against Christian principles and firmly denounced this practice. Because the Spirit of God dwelt in him, he fearlessly proclaimed the truth about the sanctity of marriage. He refused to take the "easy way" (Cf. ibid. 7: 13) of moral compromise. "I have to fulfil my duty as a Church witness to Jesus Christ", he explained. Fear of suffering and death did not deter him. During his final imprisonment Peter To Rot was serene, even joyful. He told people that he was ready to die for the faith and for his people.
5. On the day of his death, Blessed Peter asked his wife to bring him his catechistís crucifix. It accompanied him to the end. Condemned without trial, he suffered his martyrdom calmly. Following in the footsteps of his Master, the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (Jn 1,29), he too was "led like a lamb to the slaughter" (Cf. Is 53,7). And yet this "grain of wheat" which fell silently into the earth (cf. Jn. Jn 12,24) has produced a harvest of blessings for the Church in Papua New Guinea!
Yes, the wisdom of the Gospel tells us that eternal life comes through death, and true joy through suffering. In order to understand this we must judge by Godís standards and not by manís (cf. Mt. Mt 16,23)! This morningís Reading from the First Letter of Peter says: "Happy are you when you are insulted for the sake of Christ, for then Godís Spirit... has come to rest on you" (1P 4,14). These words apply to Peter To Rot. They describe the particular "blessedness" of those "from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Ap 5,9) who suffer martyrdom in every age of the Church. In Godís eyes, those persecuted for their fidelity to the Gospel are truly blessed, for their "reward is great in heaven" (Mt 5,12).
6. I am particularly happy that there are many catechists here from all over Papua New Guinea. You, dear catechists, are "direct witnesses and irreplaceable evangelizers... the basic strength of Christian communities" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 73). From the beginning, the work of lay catechists in Papua New Guinea has made "an outstanding and indispensable contribution to the spread of the faith and of the Church" (Ad Gentes AGD 17). In the name of the whole Church I thank you for the sacred work which you are doing. May God reward and bless each one of you.
The Martyrís example speaks also to married couples.Blessed Peter To Rot had the highest esteem for marriage and, even in the face of great personal danger and opposition, he defended the Churchís teaching on the unity of marriage and the need for mutual fidelity. He treated his wife Paula with deep respect and prayed with her morning and evening. For his children he had the utmost affection and spent as much time with them as he could. If families are good, your villages will be peaceful and good. Hold on to the traditions that defend and strengthen family life!
7. A special greeting to the many young people who are here. Blessed Peter is a model for you too. He shows you not to be concerned only about yourselves but to put yourselves generously at the service of others. As citizens, you should feel the need to work to improve your country, and to ensure that society develops in honesty and justice, harmony and solidarity. As followers of Christ guided by the truths of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, build on the solid rock of faith and do your duty with love. Do not be afraid to commit yourselves to the task of making Christ known and loved, especially among the many people of your own age, who make up the largest part of the population.
8. For the Church in Papua New Guinea the Beatification of Peter To Rot opens a new period of Christian maturity. In the history of the local Church in any country, the first native-born martyr always marks a new beginning. For this reason, as Pastor of the universal Church, I have fervently desired to share this great joy with you and join you in giving thanks to God for the first Blessed of Papua New Guinea.
To the intercession of the new Blessed I wish to commend with special affection the people of Bougainville, who for six years have been suffering the tragic consequences of violence, war and destruction. I extend a special word of encouragement to Bishop Gregory Singkai and the Church in Bougainville, who are bearing a heavy physical and spiritual burden. I earnestly appeal to all sides in this dispute to negotiate a settlement in a spirit of goodwill and constructive openness. I pray that the discussions which have recently been initiated will soon lead to a just and lasting peace, with respect for the legitimate aspirations and rights of all concerned. May reconciliation and harmony once more prevail, so that the reconstruction which all yearn for can begin.
To the people of New Britain, the fellow countrymen of Blessed Peter To Rot, Martyr-catechist of Rakunai, I repeat the words of the Letter of Peter: "Rejoice... insofar as you share Christís sufferings" (1P 4,13). Your recent tragedy has made you like your Martyr, different in the kind of suffering you have had to undergo, but like him configured to the Passion and Death of the Lord. The crucified Jesus is the sign of Godís unfailing love for every one of his children, for each and every one of you.
639 Mi laik bai yupela i tingim Peter To Rot oltaim. Yupela i mas tingting oltaim long bilip bilong em; yupela i mas tingting oltaim long famili laif bilong em; yupela I mas tingting oltaim long wok bilong em. Bikos Peter To Rot I soim rot long yumi. Em I soim rot long yumi olgeta, tasol moa yet long ol famili bilong PAPUA NIUGINI na long ol yut na long ol manmeri ol I autim tok bilong God long ol pipel.
Yupela amamas! Olgeta wari bilong yupela i ken tanim i go kamap amamas gen. Amen.
(I want you to remember Peter To Rot always. You must think always of his faith; you must think always of his life in the family; you must think always of his work as a catechist. Because Peter To Rot shows us the way. He shows the way to all of us, but especially to the families here in PAPUA NEW GUINEA and to the youth and to all those men and women who preach the word of God to the people.
Rejoice! May your sadness be turned into joy! Amen.)
My brothers and sisters from Papua New Guinea, from the Solomon Islands, I share deeply with you in this beatification. The first Beatus from your country, from your people, from your Church. My congratulations to each and everyone of you, to the Bishops, to the priests, missionaries, catechists, to all the catechists, a great feast of all the catechists everywhere in the world Ė your families... And God bless you and your families and your catechists and all of you, everyone of you, the Church and the society.
Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ!
Thank you very much!
Wednesday, 18 January 1995
640 Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Grace and peace to you in Jesus Christ!
1. I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you and to say a few words of encouragement. Caring for the sick and the suffering has always been a special concern of the Lordís followers. From the Churchís earliest days, when missionaries brought the Good News of the Gospel to far distant lands, they also brought love and compassion for people suffering from disease. It was this charity which caused many native peoples to welcome these messengers of Christ and made them wish to learn about God who inspired such selfless acts of kindness.
This is why I come to you today, to assure you that the Church, like Christ himself, is close to you who suffer. She commends you to the Lord. She prays that he will give you the consolation and hope which will bring you peace.
2. Human suffering is a great mystery, but our Christian tradition helps us to understand it. As we are told in the First Letter of Peter, we may be called to experience suffering in our lives, but only through a faith which is tested shall we obtain the salvation of our souls (cf. 1Pt. 1P 1,6-9). The only way to share in Christís glorious victory over sin and death is by being united with him in his Passion. It is Jesusí Death and Resurrection which show us the meaning of human suffering. Believers who suffer in union with Christ and surrender themselves to him help make his salvation known to others.
When you suffer with Christ, you show that you are blessed because, as the Lord himself tells us in the Gospel passage, you have not taken offense at him (cf. Lk. Lc 7,23). Jesusí Passion and Crucifixion is not a stumbling block for you, but a source of joy and hope. Accepting your suffering in this way, you allow others to see the true dignity of the human person. You reveal a God who loves us so much that he became one of us in order to share our pain and sorrows. You make known the truth that God will transform death itself into a beautiful future where "he will wipe away every tear" (Ap 21,4) from our eyes.
3. Dear Friends, you see how important you are! So as you suffer in union with Christ be united to him in prayer. Remember Job: after enduring terrible pain and affliction, he prayed for his friends and "the Lord accepted Jobís prayer" (Iob. 42: 9). You too can pray very effectively for your fellow men and women, for the Church and for the world.
I wish to encourage you: May you know ever more deeply the presence of Jesus himself as you try to embrace him and his Cross. My prayers and the prayers of the Church are with you always.
And I should say that the Beatification of Peter To Rot should give great encouragement to all of you, to all the suffering Churches, suffering persons, suffering families.
He is a martyr and martyrdom is suffering. And he as a martyr, as a Blessed of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, is a Patron for all of you. He is an example of how to live in grace, being a son of God, and secondly, he is also your intercessor. Pray to him, invoke him in your sufferings, for your needs. You and Peter are of the same continent, of the same nation, of the same Church. You are near to us.
You are reaching the whole Communion of the Saints and God himself in his mercy.
641 May God and the Virgin Mary bless you all.
Dear Sisters and Friends in Christ,
"This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" ().
1. Today, for the first time an Australian is to be raised to the glory of the altar. "The tender mercy of our God" (Lc 1,78) has shone upon the face of his Church in this continent with the radiant holiness of your foundress and intercessor: Mother Mary MacKillop. I warmly greet each one of you: the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, the Federated Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Josephite Associates in Mission, and the members of the wider Josephite family.
Many of you have travelled great distances Ė from the remotest areas of Australia, from Cambodia, Ireland, New Zealand and Peru Ė for the Beatification of Mother Mary of the Cross. We are gathered here in Sydney to venerate and invoke the intercession of this fervent and stalwart woman whom the Lord made "holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col 1,22). It is Godís sovereign "grace" of holiness and love embodied in the life of Mother Mary which is the principal reason for our rejoicing.The Beatification of Mary MacKillop reminds us that all efforts to renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps. ) are sterile if they are not grounded in the gift of new and abundant life by which a person "is brought into the supernatural reality of the divine life itself and becomes a Ďdwelling place of the Holy Spirití, a living temple of God" (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem DEV 58).
2. Dear Friends: Mary MacKillop cannot be understood without reference to her Religious vocation. The recent Synod of Bishops on the consecrated life reflected on many questions regarding consecration itself. What clearly emerged from the Synodís discussion is the fact that the consecrated life is a specific vocation, not to be confused with other forms of commitment and dedication to the apostolate. People look to Religious to walk side by side with them along the path of life, precisely as those who are wise in the ways of God. Mother Mary of the Cross did not just free people from ignorance through schooling, or alleviate their suffering through compassionate care. She worked to satisfy their deeper, though sometimes unconscious, longing for "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ep 3,8).
Through the redemptive Death and Resurrection of Christ, the Kingdom of God is taking root in history Ė and you are tending its growth. To the degree that you make "contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer" your foremost responsibility (Code of Canon Law CIC 683,1) Ė you become leading agents of societyís deepest transformation. The Lord has consecrated you "to bring good tidings to the afflicted" (Is 61,1)! The world which is deceived by false promises needs the distinctive and visible witness of holiness and moral integrity provided by religious consecration. Godís people are helped and supported more by what you are than by what you do. They need to see in your lives the values of fidelity to the Churchís sacramental and liturgical life, personal prayer centred on Christ and the Trinitarian life of God, simple and warm community life, preferential love for the poorest, freedom in obedience and the joy of always belonging to God (Cf. John Paul II, Evangelica Testificatio, 55).
3. In a word, what the Church and society look for in those who embrace the consecrated life is that they be living witnesses of what it means to follow "Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1Co 2,2). Mother Mary of the Cross shines before us as an outstanding model of a woman who embraced the Cross, not as a burden or a scandal, but as the most effective way of being united with the Lord her Spouse.She once wrote that the Cross is "a sweet and dear instrument in the hands of a great and good Father in making His children all that such a Father has a right to expect His chosen children to be".
Just as the "new and everlasting Covenant" was established through "the blood of his cross" (Col 1,20), so too the profession of the evangelical counsels consists in making a sacrificial and total gift of self to God in a new consecration (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptionis Donum, 7). This "special consecration", which entails an original charism, enables a person to scale the heights of love: a complete love, dedicated to Christ under the impulse of the Holy Spirit and, through Christ, offered to the Father. By professing the counsels you proclaim that Christ is to be loved with an undivided heart (cf. 1Cor. 1Co 7,34), embraced as your priceless treasure (cf. Mt. Mt 6,21) and obeyed as your only Lord (cf. Eph. Ep 4,5). Interior freedom and genuine spiritual maturity are the blessed inheritance of those who "lose their life" for the sake of Christ (cf. Mt. Mt 16,25).
4. Among the pressing issues facing the People of God in Australia there is the need for an understanding of the dignity and mission of women, in the family, in society and in the Church, which is faithful to "the truth of the Gospel" (Ga 2,14). An authentic theology of woman, based upon an anthropology revealed in the mystery of Creation and Redemption, brings to light womenís feminine "originality" and particular "genius" (Cf. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem MD 10 and 30). Women who seek a true Christian concept of femininity can look to the free and active role assumed by Mary of Nazareth, the Virgin-Mother of the Lord. In her, all women can discover "the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater RMA 46).
642 It must be clear that the Church stands firmly against every form of discrimination which in any way compromises the equal dignity of women and men. The complete equality of persons is however accompanied by a marvellous complementarity. This complementarity concerns not only the roles of men and women but also, and more deeply, their make-up and meaning as persons (Cf. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 50). For that reason I am convinced that a mistaken anthropology is at the root of the failure of society to understand Church teaching on the true role of women. That role is in no way diminished but is in fact enhanced by being related in a special way to motherhood Ė the source of new life Ė both physical and spiritual. The Church therefore faces the challenge of finding fresh and creative ways of recognizing and integrating the specific charisms of women, which are essential to building up the Body of Christ in unity and love.
5. We are preparing to cross the threshold of the Third Christian Millennium. In order to do so without fear our hearts must be firmly set on Christ, "the hope of glory" (Col 1,27). The whole Church, including Religious Institutes, must be ever more sensitive to all that the Spirit is saying (cf. Rev. Ap 2,7) as the Great Jubilee draws near. With serenity and confidence in Godís mercy, individuals and communities are being challenged Ė as I wrote in the recent Apostolic Letter announcing the Jubilee of the Year 2000 Ė to "purify themselves, through repentance, of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency, and slowness to act" (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 33).
During the remaining years of our century, we will be in the period of a "new Advent", a time of profound conversion of mind and heart, which the Apostle Paul referred to as "a spiritual revolution" (cf. Eph. Ep 4,23). As Mother Mary of the Cross lay dying she sent her Sisters a message of evangelical simplicity and power: "Do not be afraid", she wrote. "Love one another, bear with one another, and let charity guide you in all your life". This is the spirit we need to live the "new Advent".
6. Today we praise you, O God, for your gracious gift to us of Mother Mary of the Cross. We thank you for the wonders of holiness which you wrought in her as a disciple of Jesus and a faithful daughter of the Church.Beloved Sisters and dear Friends: From this day forward you will have a powerful intercessor before the throne of God in the person of Blessed Mary MacKillop. I pray that her example of ardent love for the Church, the Body of Christ, will ever inspire you to serve the Lord with gladness Ė in the weak, the brokenhearted and the oppressed. In Mary MacKillop all Australians have a sign of the flowering of holiness in their midst. Let us truly "rejoice and be glad" (). Amen.
And I am truly rejoicing, truly rejoicing that I am in your midst. I say, Pax.
As I entered the cathedral, I met many of you, Sisters, and everyone of you was for me a source of admiration for the mystery you bring in your hearts. The mystery of a new love. Once Jesus Christ called you, everyone of you, and said to her: follow me, be my bride, I am the bridegroom of the souls. Be my bride, my spouse. Become my bride, and you will become mother of so many children. This great mystery I admire in everyone of you, in every Sister and Superior, religious Sister and religious Superior in the whole world. And I am so glad for being here among you for this great day when the first among you, Mary MacKillop, will be beatified.
Thank you very much.
Thursday, 19 January 1995
"But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt 6,33).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
643 1. We are celebrating an extraordinary event in the life of the Church in this land: the beatification of Mother Mary MacKillop, the first Australian formally declared to be among the Blessed in heaven. I rejoice with all of you: with Cardinal Clancy and my Brother Bishops, with the priests, Religious, all of you, lay men and women, families, young people and children, who offer a radiant and authentic sign of the Churchís vitality. I give thanks to God for being able to celebrate this Beatification right here on Australian soil. Indeed, Australia itself forms a kind of background for the reflections which I would like to share with you.
Just a few weeks ago, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Lordís Birth, and todayís Liturgy still echoes that saving mystery. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah recalls the Liturgy of Advent and it has certain images which are quite applicable to your own Continent. Isaiah writes: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (Is 40,3). The Prophet speaks of the contrasts of valleys and mountains, of rough terrain and level ground (Cf. ibid. 40, 4). In all of this, of course, he is referring to the geography of the Holy Land. But do not these same images also call to mind the geography of Australia? In the centre of Australia is there not an enormous desert, only the outer edges of which are rich and fertile? Are there not rugged plateaus and deep valleys? Along with harsh terrain do we not also find pleasant and hospitable countryside?
2. The contrasts go beyond mere topography; they are evident also in the ethnic origins of the people. Due to its history of receiving immigrants, Australia has come to be a land of encounter between very different cultures and civilizations. Even before the first Europeans arrived here more than two centuries ago, the aboriginal peoples had been present for tens of thousands of years. In fact, ethnologists tell us that the original inhabitants of Australia are among the most ancient peoples on earth. These contrasts in peoples and culture make your nation a marvellous blend of the old and the new, such that Australia today is a land of diversity and unity, enriched by the contributions which these various individuals and groups make to the building up of society.
The Prophet Isaiahís exhortation takes on a special relevance for those assembled here and for all the Catholic people of Australia. It is here in your own land that the way of the Lord should be prepared, so that Australia will be a place "where the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together" (Ibid. 40: 5). In fact, this glory has already been abundantly revealed in Mary MacKillop, and the Church, by declaring her "Blessed", is saying that the holiness demanded by the Gospel is as Australian as she was Australian. This is the message which I wish to address in particular to Mother MacKillopís spiritual daughters, the members of the Congregation which she founded. Be assured, dear Sisters, that the Church needs your witness and your fidelity. Australia too values your presence and your dedicated apostolate.
3. It is significant that Mother Mary MacKillop gave to her Congregation the name of Saint Joseph, one who committed his whole being and life to Godís loving Providence. Joseph of Nazareth was a man of boundless trust. Only in this way was he able to live out the unique calling he had received from God, to become the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the guardian of Godís own Son. In the history of the Church Saint Joseph has always been a special model of holiness. Without a doubt, in giving Saint Josephís name to her Congregation, Blessed Mary MacKillop was expressing a quality of her own spiritual life, a quality which then became a charism for her followers and for those of us today who would learn from her example.
In the Gospel the Lord says: "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink... Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Mt 6,25-26). Joseph the "just man" lived by these words. These words give us an insight into what must be the fundamental attitude of every spiritual life: openness, trust and serenity in the certainty of Godís special love for every human being, "who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself" (Gaudium et Spes GS 24).
4. The Lord concludes his teaching on trust in Providence with the invitation: "Do not worry... your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt 6,31-33). In the history of Australian Catholicism, this "striving for the kingdom of God" has been realized in an eminent way by Blessed Mary of the Cross.
In the vastness of the Australian continent, Blessed Mary MacKillop was not daunted by the great desert, the immense expanses of the outback, nor by the spiritual "wilderness" which affected so many of her fellow citizens. Rather she boldly prepared the way of the Lord in the most trying situations. With gentleness, courage and compassion, she was a herald of the Good News among the isolated "battlers" and the urban slum-dwellers. Mother Mary of the Cross knew that behind the ignorance, misery and suffering which she encountered there were people, men and women, young and old, yearning for God and his righteousness. She knew, because she was a true child of her time and place: the daughter of immigrants who had to struggle at all times to build a life for themselves in their new surroundings. Her story reminds us of the need to welcome people, to reach out to the lonely, the bereft, the disadvantaged. To strive for the kingdom of God and his righteousness means to strive to see Christ in the stranger, to meet him in them and to help them to meet him in each one of us!
5. Just as in Mother MacKillopís time, so too today the Christian community is faced with many modern "deserts": the wastelands of indifference and intolerance, the desolation of racism and contempt for other human beings, the barrenness of selfishness and faithlessness: sin in all its forms and expressions, and the scandal of sin magnified by the means of social communications. If the Church continually recalls Godís law, inscribed in the human heart and revealed in the Old and New Testaments, it is not because of some arbitrary attachment to past tradition and outmoded views. It is that man detached from his Creator and Redeemer cannot fulfil his destiny and will not have peace. Everywhere the Church must be "a sign and a safeguard of the transcendence of the human person" (Gaudium et Spes GS 76). By defending life against the evils of abortion and euthanasia, by encouraging strong family life in the face of old and new threats to its stability, by advancing justice at every level through her social doctrine, the Church is a true Gospel leaven in every sphere of human activity (Gaudium et Spes GS 40). The great document of the Second Vatican Council on the Church in the Modern World has given the Churchís members a reminder which is timely in every age: "Christians cannot yearn for anything more ardently than to serve the men and women of the modern world ever more generously and effectively" (Ibid. 93).
6. How do we go about this? Saint Paulís clear and unambiguous answer is contained in the Second Reading of this Mass. His words to the Colossians indicate what is at the heart of every Christian vocation. He says: "Above all, clothe yourselves in love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Col 3,14). What does it mean to "clothe ourselves in love"? Saint Paul explains: "Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other" (Ibid. 3: 12-13). Here Saint Paul draws his inspiration from the Beatitudes, and in that same spirit he writes about the peace of Christ, to which we have all been called (Cf. ibid. 3: 15), and the need for giving thanks in all things (Cf. ibid. 3: 17).
7. In this solemn Liturgy the Church expresses her thankfulness to Mother Mary of the Cross, to the Religious Community she founded and to all Religious Communities. The recent Synod of Bishops dedicated to the life and mission of the consecrated life fully recognized the great contribution made by Religious Communities to the Church and to culture and civilization throughout the world. Responding to Saint Paulís call to "be thankful" (Ibid. 3: 15), we, on the occasion of this Beatification, express our thanks to Christ the Lord for the great service that consecrated men and women render in Australia in the fields of education and healthcare, and through so many other activities on behalf of the common good. Let us pray for a new springtime of religious vocations so that these Communities will continue to be a vital sign of Jesus Christís presence in your midst!
644 It is very well that you are clapping for the Pope kindly this time.
Thank you very much.
8. Yes, Christ is present in Sydney, and throughout Australia! Through him, all creation, and in particular all humanity, is made capable of giving thanks to the Father for the gifts of Creation and Redemption and for the good things that come from human hands. Christ confers on the whole of life a "Eucharistic significance". Men and women of today often forget this; they think that they themselves are the creators of these goods and they easily lose sight of God. As a result they fail to strive for the kingdom of God and too often have no concern for his righteousness.
The Saints, on the contrary, teach us to see Christ present in Australia, in Sydney. They teach us to see Christ as the centre and summit of Godís lavish gifts to humanity. For this reason the Church honours them, raises them to the altars and proposes them as models to be imitated. They are heralds of the true meaning of human life. Blessed be God in his saints!
9. "Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Mt 6,33).
With these words I began this homily, and with them I wish to conclude.
The Beatification of Mother Mary MacKillop is a kind of "consecration" of the people of God in Australia. Through her witness the truth of Godís love and the values of his kingdom have been made visible in this continent Ė values which are at the very basis of Australian society. May your whole Nation remain true to its Christian heritage! And may the Church which makes her pilgrim way in Australia continue to carry out her mission, proclaiming Godís kingdom and his righteousness!
And on the last day, the days I still think about pilgrims. I see the young people of Manila, of so many nations of the whole world... All representing the Pilgrim Church, the pilgrim people of God. And all singing with us, Te Deum laudamus. We are singing, then, of this celebration, of God we praise you. All pilgrim Church sing, rejoice, rejoice in Australia. Christ is here in Sydney and everywhere. Christ is here.
Thank you very much.
Holy Father's greetings at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Celebration:
645 I greet all Australians, beginning with all Aboriginals of Australia and New Zealand. And then all who made their contribution to the entire work of prayer: Irish, Ireland, all Irish-Australians, all British-Australians, all Italians, all Croatians, Polish, Ukrainians, and Vietnamese. All together..., mexicanos tambiť, Polakůw,...
We all praise the Lord! All of you, once again, thank you very much! And our congratulations to Blessed Mary MacKillop and the Congregation of Sisters founded by her, here present.
Once again, thank you very much for your patience and perseverance.
And the last word about Cardinal Clancy... Cardinal Clancy desired the rain tomorrow, only tomorrow...
The Pope for today, Cardinal Clancy for tomorrow.
Praise be the Lord!
S. John Paul II Homil. 636