04 January 2023 – Holy Requiem Mass in Commendation of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

by Bishop Sebastian Francis

1 John 3:7-10
Psalm 97(98):1,7-9
John 1:35-42

It is wonderful to be here and to be one in spirit with Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI.

He left us a spiritual testament. All Popes have to do this while they are alive. They have to write a spiritual testament and it will only be made public after they are dead. So Pope Benedict wrote his spiritual testament to be made public after his death on the 29th August 2006, one year and four months after his appointment as the 264th successor of Saint Peter. And then it is sealed and it was made public just after his death.

I just want to, it is short, and I just want to give you a summary of it. The first thing he tells to all of us:-

To all those in the church who have been entrusted to my service, stand firm in the faith. Stand firm in the faith.
If in this late hour of my life, I look back at the decades
(almost nine decades), I have been true. First I see how many reasons I have to give thanks (first to God Himself, then to his father, mother, family and others that he mentions in his spiritual final testament).
Secondly, he says, to all those whom I have wronged in any way, I heartily ask for forgiveness.
Thirdly, he speaks about his favourite topics, natural sciences, the role of reason, sacred scripture, catholic faith, dialogue with all and most important of all Jesus Christ.

Finally, he ends with these words:-

I humbly ask, pray for me so that the Lord despite all my sins and insufficiencies welcomes me into the eternal dwellings. To all those entrusted to me, day by day, my heartfelt prayer goes out.

So I believe he has been praying for us when he was our Pope, praying for all of us. And he was the one who appointed me in 2012 as Bishop of Penang.

And you can see in the slide there it says 71 years of homilies, as a deacon, priest, Bishop and finally Pope, innumerable essays, 66 books, 3 encyclicals, 4 exhortations and finally all boiled down to the 4 last words at the hour of his death which is:-

I love you, Jesus.

I, Joseph Ratzinger (his birth name, later Pope Benedict XVI), I love you, Jesus.

And I am sure if he could say those words, it is because he must have heard his Master, his Lord, addressed to him personally, ‘I love you, Joseph Ratzinger. I love you, Benedict XVI.‘ That is the only reason why he was able to say these words in reply, ‘I love you, Jesus.

At the Gospel of today, so we see two disciples who belong to John the Baptist who now meet Jesus for the first time and Jesus noticed that they are showing some interest in him. Probably John the Baptist would have told them ‘Well, stop following me. Follow him.‘ Well all leaders must be able to say this at some point ‘Stop following me, follow Him. Follow Jesus.

And Jesus noticing their interest told them, ‘What do you want?
And the two disciples’ reply to Jesus, ‘Teacher, where do you live?

That is an interesting question. Jesus said ‘What do you want?‘ They said ‘Where do you live?

Then Jesus tells the two disciples these famous, famous, famous words. Three words that have moved millions of people to follow Christ in whatever way as disciples or in whatever capacity. He simply said, he did not say I lived here or there, He said:-

Come and See

And they went and they saw and they spent much time with him. Now we are told that one of the two was Andrew. So Andrew came to Jesus even before Simon Peter, his brother. Andrew and Simon Peter are brothers. So Andrew came first, not Simon Peter. Now Andrew goes back to look for his brother, his brother Simon Peter and tells him ‘Simon, we have found the Messiah.‘ and brings Simon Peter to Jesus.

Now Jesus says to Simon Peter, ‘You are Simon, son of John. From now, you are to be called Cephas‘. Cephas, Petrus, Peter, Petra meaning Rock.

And I think every Pope from the first Simon Peter (now called the Rock) up to Pope Francis today, including Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger, who was the 264th successor of Simon Peter, would have applied these words to themselves. That we had so many rocks, unbroken, continuous from Peter till today, till Francis, and Benedict, his predecessor. So these words have applied just as much to Benedict as to Francis:-

Benedict, you are rock, and on this rock I will build my church.
You, Francis, are rock and on this rock I will build my church.

So we are gathered here, representing the whole Diocese. Priests are here, seminarians are here, religious sisters are here, the laity young and old are here and many more joining us on the media, social media. Well, we are here to follow, to respond to his request, to the request of Benedict who in his last words said ‘Please pray for me so that the Lord despite all my sins and insufficiencies welcomes me into the eternal dwellings.

So thank you dear Joseph Ratzinger. Thank you dear Pope Benedict XVI. Many of us grew up in the last ten or more years with him as our Pope, as our shepherd. So it is time to say thank you and to return him to the Lord.

Click below to listen to homily and watch video:-

Click to live-stream Mass on 04 January 2023