Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Mass at St. Peter’s on Monday evening for the fifth anniversary of Venerable John Paul II’s death. He called his predecessor a "great Pole" whose entire life was given out of charity.
Among the many others taking part in the Mass was Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow Stanislaw Dziwisz, the late-Pope's personal secretary. The Mass was celebrated four days before the actual day of Pope John Paul II's death, April 2, because it falls on Good Friday this year.
In his homily, the Holy Father likened John Paul II to the figure of the "Servant of God" described by the prophet Isaiah in Monday's Liturgy of the Word. The Servant, the Pope said, "will act with steadfast firmness, with an energy that is not lacking until he has realized the task he has been assigned."
"What the inspired prophet says about the Servant, we can also apply to the beloved John Paul II," the Holy Father said, noting that late-Pontiff was guided by the Lord to "exercise a very fruitful ministry, for which, once again, we give fervent thanks to God."
Pope Benedict went on to say that John Paul II's actions reflected the charity we see in today's Gospel reading which recounts the story of Mary of Bethany, who washed the feet of Jesus with an expensive oinment and dried them with her hair.
"The entire life of Venerable John Paul II took place in the sign of this charity, of the capacity to give himself generously, without reservation, without measure, without calculation," explained Benedict XVI. "What moved him was love for Christ, to whom he had consecrated his life, an overabundant and unconditional love."
The Pope especially greeted those from Poland at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, telling them in their native language that the life of this "great Pole" can be a source of pride for them. He said, though, that they must remember that his life "is also a great call to be faithful witnesses of the faith, hope and love that he taught uninterruptedly."
Pope Benedict concluded his homily with a call for everyone to "entrust ourselves ... following the example of Venerable John Paul II, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so that she may sustain our commitment to being, in every circumstance, untiring apostles of her divine Son and his merciful Love."