Pope Francis commended Pope Benedict XVI to God the Father in his homily at the funeral mass of the late Pope Emeritus in St. Peter's Square on Thursday morning.
Pope Francis started his homily by recalling Jesus' last words on the cross, "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit." (Lk 23:46)
The Pope said that as we were trying to follow Jesus as an ecclesial community, we too "want to follow in His steps and to commend our brother (Benedict) into the hands of the Father."
He prayed for the late Pope Benedict that may those merciful hands find his lamp alight with the oil of the Gospel that he spread and testified to for his entire life.
Jesus invited us to commend our spirit to the Father; the Pope said this invitation inspired and shaped the heart of every pastor so he might be "attuned in grateful devotion, in service to the Lord and to His people, a service born of thanksgiving for a completely gracious gift."
He added that this grateful devotion indicated the "condescension and closeness of God, who is ready to entrust himself to the frail hands of his disciples so that they can feed his people and say with him: Take and eat, take and drink, for this is my body which is given up for you (cf. Lk 22:19)."
The Pope instructed that when a pastor is following Jesus, he requires "prayerful devotion" that is "silently shaped and refined despite the obstacles and opposition every pastor must experience."
"Like the Master, a shepherd bears the burden of interceding and the strain of anointing his people, especially in situations where goodness must struggle to prevail and the dignity of our brothers and sisters is threatened," Pope Francis said.
The pastor must commit himself to the prayers and care of the people entrusted to him, like Saint Gregory the Great instructed a friend to offer him spiritual accompaniment to support him.
As the Church remembers Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Pope Francis emphasized the importance of mutual prayerful support to each other.
"God's faithful people, gathered here, now accompany and entrust to Him the life of the one who was their pastor... We want to do this with the same wisdom, tenderness and devotion that he bestowed upon us over the years. Together, we want to say: "Father, into your hands we commend his spirit," said Pope Francis.
The Pope prayed, "Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever!"
According to theage.com.au, 120 cardinals, 400 bishops, about 4000 priests and an estimated 100,000 audience participated in the funeral mass of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
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