I stayed up last night for the funeral Mass of John Paul II. The whole event was very moving, especially the homily by Cardinal Ratzinger and the crowds spontaneously breaking into applause and chants.
It is clearer than ever to me why the Church holds up saints – men and women of outstanding holiness – as witnesses and examples for the world. It encourages us to commit ourselves to living the Gospel fully, rather than by half-measures.
The coverage on NBC that I watched had a commentary that explained the role of Peter in the Church, what Catholics believe about the Eucharist, the veneration of saints, and in particular, the way that Mary, the Mother of God, was known by JPII as the “most direct path to Jesus.”
I would say that the funeral helped to fulfill the hope of John Paul II in his Last Will and Testament when he wrote:
I hope that Christ will give me the grace for the last passage, that is [my] Pasch. I hope that he will render it useful also for this most important cause which I seek to serve: the salvation of men, the safeguarding of the human family, and in it of all the nations and peoples (among them I also turn in a particular way to my earthly Homeland), useful for the persons he has entrusted to me in a particular way, for the issues of the Church, for the glory of God himself.”
Here was a man whose heart bore the weight of his neighbor’s glory to the very end.
People have commented in recent days on how, since his passing, many of us feel orphaned, like we have lost a father. I think this was why Ratzinger’s homily was particularly moving, when he told the family of humanity, gathered to grieve the passing of the clearest paternal figure it has known:
“That last Easter Sunday of his life… the Holy Father, in extreme suffering, appeared once again at the window of the Apostolic Palace, and one last time gave … a blessing,” he said. “And I think we can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of his Father’s house, and he sees us and he blesses us.”
– Quoted on MTV.com
MTV reported this! We are witnessing a Pope whose impact for the new evangelization knows no limits.