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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 13:34-35).” (20)

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 place.

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.

Priests for Life
PO Box 236695 • Cocoa, FL 32923
Tel. 321-500-1000, Toll Free 888-735-3448 •