This morning the Holy Father presided over the November Mass offered for the souls of the cardinals and bishops who died over the past year. During the Mass, a papal tradition, the Pontiff assured the congregation that their deceased brethren had passed “from death to life because they chose Christ.”
Benedict XVI opened his homily by recalling the names of the ten cardinals who passed away during the past 12 months: Stephen Fumio Hamao, Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., Aloísio Lorscheider O.F.M., Peter Porekuu Dery, Adolfo Antonio Suarez Rivera, Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, Bernardin Gantin, Antonio Innocenti and Antonio Jose Gonzalez Zumarraga.
Pope Benedict continued by noting that when death is viewed from a perspective of “evangelical wisdom,” it gives us “beneficial guidance because it forces us to look reality in the face, it compels us to recognize the transience of what appears so great and strong to the eyes of the world. In the face of death all reasons for human pride fall away, and what is really worthwhile emerges.”
We are not God, the Pontiff continued, we are merely creatures passing through the world. “To recognize this difference between us and Him is the primary condition for being with Him and in Him. It is also a condition for becoming like Him, but only by welcoming the grace of His free gift.”
This love and grace from God is freely given and we must also “make of ourselves a free gift to others,” the Holy Father went on. “In this way we know God as we are known by Him, ... and we pass from death to life like Jesus Christ, Who defeated death with His resurrection thanks to the heavenly Father's glorious power of love."
This is a “great comfort to us as we face the mystery of death, especially when it strikes people who are dear to us. The Lord today assures us that our lamented brethren, for whom we are praying in a special way in this Mass, passed from death to life because they chose Christ ... and consecrated themselves to the service of others. And therefore, even if they have to accept their share of redress due to human frailty - which marks us all, helping to keep us humble - their faithfulness to Christ allows them to enter into the freedom of the children of God."
The Holy Father ended his homily by praying that our eyes never stray from our heavenly destination. "Let us pray that we, pilgrims upon the earth, always keep our hearts and eyes turned towards the final goal to which we all aspire, the House of the Father, Heaven."