On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of John Paul I, Pope Benedict I dedicated his Sunday Angelus to the Pontiff whose reign lasted 33 days.
Speaking from a balcony in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict recalled Sunday’s readings. In the Parable of the Two Sons, Jesus calls on sinners to convert and teaches humility as the means to accepting the gift of salvation.
In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.” St. Paul’s sentiments are the same as those of Jesus, who out of love for humankind, became man and died on the cross. The verb used – ekenôsen – literally means that Jesus “emptied himself” and “makes clear the profound humility and infinite love of Jesus, humble servant par excellence.”
The Pope said that the biblical texts brought to mind John Paul I. The deceased Pontiff chose the same episcopal motto as St. Charles Borromeo: Humilitas. One word synthesizes the Christian life and indicates the indispensible virtue of who, in the Church, is called to serve in a position of authority. In one of his four General Audiences, John Paul I repeated Jesus’ words: “Learn from me because I am gentle and humble of heart.” Humility can be considered John Paul I’s spiritual testament.
Pope Benedict explained that John Paul I used examples from daily life. The Venetian Pontiff’s simplicity, the Holy Father continued, “was a means of solid and fruitful instruction, which, thanks to the gift of an excellent memory and vast culture, was enriched by numerous citations of church and secular authors.” He was an unmatched catechist, in the footsteps of St. Pius X, his countryman and predecessor, first in Venice, then in Rome.
The Pope concluded by encouraging his audience to thank God for the gift of John Paul I to the Church and to cultivate the late Pontiff’s humility.
The Holy Father then prayed the angelus, greeted those present in various languages and gave his Apostolic Blessing.