Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has last week reflected on the words of the First Letter of John in talking about the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Speaking at the Remembrance Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Sunday 8 January at St Mary’s Cathedral, Archbishop Costelloe was joined for the occasion by Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Cathedral Dean Very Rev Dr Sean Fernandez and Assistant priests Fr Israel Quirit and Fr Richard Smith.
“When in the first letter of Saint John we read that ‘…We will be like God because we shall see God as he really is’, the very next line is this: ‘Surely all those who entertain this hope must purify themselves, must try to be as pure as Christ…’ (1 John 3:3) Pope Benedict understood this deeply,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.
“How often did he insist that, in spite of what so many, both outside the Church and sadly sometimes within the Church, seem to believe, the essence of Christianity, and of our Catholic faith, is not to be found in rules and regulations, important though these may be, but in a living relationship with Christ which transforms us and makes us more deeply human,” Archbishop Costelloe highlighted.
More than 800 people gathered at the 11am Mass for the occasion, following the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Saturday 31 December, aged 95, nearly 10 years after leaving the papacy to retire to what he said would be a life of prayer and study.
A large picture frame of Benedict XVI was placed on the sanctuary to mark the occasion, which was also the Feast of the Epiphany.
“Welcome to our solemn celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany, where we remember the gospel story of the wise men, coming to greet the newborn king of the Jews,” Archbishop Costelloe said at the commencement of the Mass.
“In our tradition, we’ve always seen this as a symbol of the opening of the revelation of God made known to us in Jesus, not just to the Jewish people, but through the symbol of Wise Men to the whole world,” he continued.
Archbishop Costelloe also explained that Mass was an opportunity to gather in a very special way to pray for the repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
“It’s very appropriate that we do so on this day in reading about him and in reading some of his writings over the last few days since his death, I’ve been struck by things he said about the epiphany and about the fact that it is the feast of the vocation of the Church, to proclaim Christ to the whole world,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“It’s a vocation in which we all share. A vocation in which Pope Benedict faithfully responded to all through his life and during his time as Pope and during his time as the retired pontiff,” he said.
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