Homily of His Eminence Renato Raffaele Cardinal Martino
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
At the Mass for Priests for Life
Saint Laurence Cathedral, Amarillo, Texas
Thursday, 24 August 2006
Your Excellency Bishop Yanta;
Father Pavone and member of Priest for Life;
Dear Friends in Christ,
This evening in this beautiful cathedral, we come together to
renew our love for the Lord and one another in this Eucharist.
We come to listen to God’s Word and to touch that mystery of
His saving sacrifice. This Holy Mass will give us grace to be faithful
witnesses to the Gospel of Life, and to be fearless in our task of defending the
gift of life.
It is fitting, then, that we pray. Prayer is the
language of the Christian community. In prayer the nature of the community
becomes visible because in prayer we direct ourselves to the one who forms the
community. We do not pray to each other, but to the One who calls us and
makes us into a new people. Prayer is not one of the many things the
community does. Rather, it is its very being
How providential that Bishop Yanta has called for a
Eucharistic Congress at this time of the Priests for Life gathering, because the
Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, is our greatest gift as a
family of faith. It is our proof that in and through Jesus Christ, God
wants not only to teach us, to instruct us, and to inspire us, but to become one
with us. God desires to be fully united with us so that all of God and all
of us can be bound together in lasting love.
Our beloved Holy Father, Pope John Paul II reminded us of
this gift in his Encyclical Letter, Veritatis Splendor:
“Jesus asks us to follow him and to imitate him along the
path of love, a love which gives itself completely to the brethren out of love
for God: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you"
(Jn 15:12). The word "as" requires imitation of Jesus and of his love, of which
the washing of feet is a sign: "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed
your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an
example, that you should do as I have done to you" (Jn 13:14-15). Jesus' way of
acting and his words, his deeds and his precepts constitute the moral rule of
Christian life. Indeed, his actions, and in particular his Passion and Death on
the Cross, are the living revelation of his love for the Father and for others.
This is exactly the love that Jesus wishes to be imitated by all who follow him.
It is the "new" commandment: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one
another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all
men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn
God desires communion: a unity that is vital and alive, an
intimacy that comes from both sides, a bond that is truly mutual. He will
not force this bond of love upon us; He offers it freely. That is why he
became a child dependent on human care; it is why he became a boy in need of
guidance; a teacher searching for students; a prophet crying out for followers;
and finally, that is why he died on the cross and was pierced by the soldier’s
lance, and laid in a tomb, but only to rise from the dead. And at the end
of the story, he stands there looking at us, asking with eyes full of tender
expectation: “Do you love me?”
It is this intense desire of God to enter into the most
intimate relationship with us that forms the core of this Eucharistic mystery
and the Eucharistic life that we share together as a Catholic family. God
not only wants to enter human history by becoming a person who lived among us;
but God wants to become our daily food and drink now, and at any time and at any
Allow me to conclude with another quote from our Holy Father.
Pope Benedict has said that:
…And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only
when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not
some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result
of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us
is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the
Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than
to know Him and to Speak of our friendship with Him.
God bless you.