1 John 3:7-10
“Come and See”
As enormous messages of sympathy flood the church from across the world for the demises of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, many also have been moved to share a thought or reflect on his humble yet illustrious service to the Church for many decades. Of the many things that is vivid in my mind is his homily at St. Patrick Cathedral in 2008 when he visited the USA. (Click for full homily).
After briefly talking about the first and second readings, he invited the people to turn their attention to some of the architectural features of the Cathedral.
“I would like to draw your attention to a few aspects of this beautiful structure which I think can serve as a starting point for a reflection on our particular vocations within the unity of the Mystical Body. The first has to do with the stained-glass windows, which flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendour. Many writers – here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne – have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself. It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.
“This is no easy task in a world which can tend to look at the Church, like those stained-glass windows, ‘from the outside’: a world which deeply senses a need for spirituality yet finds it difficult to ‘enter into’ the mystery of the Church. Even for those of us within, the light of faith can be dimmed by routine and the splendour of the Church obscured by the sins and weaknesses of her members. It can be dimmed, too, by the obstacles encountered in a society which sometimes seems to have forgotten God and to resent even the most elementary demands of Christian morality. You, who have devoted your lives to bearing witness to the love of Christ and the building up of his Body, know from your daily contact with the world around us how tempting it is at times to give way to frustration, disappointment and even pessimism about the future. In a word, it is not always easy to see the light of the Spirit all about us, the splendour of the Risen Lord illuminating our lives and instilling renewed hope in his victory over the world (cf. Jn 16:33). Yet the word of God reminds us that, in faith, we see the heavens opened, and the grace of the Holy Spirit lighting up the Church and bringing sure hope to our world.”
Fr.Giltus Mathias CP, is a Passionist preists at St.Brigid’s Passionist Community.