Funeral Homily for Papa Luciani

I said a while back that I would post on Papa Luciani’s funeral. I was there, in the cool rain. I have always found that confounding in a way, i.e., why the good Lord saw fit to have a cloudy rainy day for Luciani’s funeral rites. The thought that has risen, though, when I think of this is that the Lord himself, on the day of his death and burial, had a day of rain and storms. So, I suppose it was fitting that Luciani, who reigned for 33 days (reminiscent of our Lord’s 33 years of age when he was crucified) should imitate at the very end the Lord in another way — his body would lay in the rain and the clouds as did our Lord’s on the cross.

There are so many ways that Luciani imitated our Lord Jesus. Jesus’ stepfather was a common man who did common labor. Luciani’s father was a common man who stood with the poor. Luciani continually spoke of his own mother’s holiness; Jesus never lost sight of his mother and spoke of her in his dying breath. Luciani spoke in parables as did our Lord. Jesus spoke simply and especially to children; Luciani did the same. Luciani’s heart gave way under the strain of his office; Jesus’ heart was heavy with the sins of us all, and his heart was pierced with a lance. Luciani never travelled far from his native Italy yet reached the hearts of all in only a month; Jesus never travelled more than a few score of miles from his birthplace, yet changed the world. No one expected Luciani to be elected the Vicar of Christ; Jesus came from Nazareth, from whence no one expected anyone of importance to come.

In the funeral homily, Cardinal Carolo Confalonieri said this, in part:

“No one could have thought that, in less than two months since the funeral rites in the St. Peter’s Square for the deceased Pope Paul VI that we would find ourselves again here, to give our last respects to his successor, Holy Father John Paul I, suddenly dead after only 33 days as pope.

We ask, ‘Why so soon?’ …. the unfathomable mysteries of life and death.

We had barely time to see the new Pope; one month was enough though because he conquered our hearts, and in one month we loved him intensely…..

He passed by like a meteor that suddenly lights up the sky and disappears, leaving us astounded and amazed….

He let us see the great themes that would have been the program of his pontificate: the genuineness and integrity of the faith, the perfection of the Christian life, love of the great discipline in the many activities toward the building of the Kingdom of God and the spiritual and material prosperity of all humanity…

He was the perfect teacher…. He spoke to the little ones so that they might come to know great things…

Pope John Paul was himself, personally, a message of peace….

He said that man must progress, progress always, in all that is good, to perfection, such being the law that brings us life; and first of all he must grow in love of God and love of neighbor. It was his testament. It was the testament of the Divine Teacher, Christ Jesus. Amen.” (Italics mine.)

Yes, that was the other way Luciani imitate our Lord…. he taught the law of love so well, in all humility.

Papa Luciani, pray for us.

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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