Christ Wants Us in Heaven, Pope Reflects

Speaks at Funeral of Czech Cardinal

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says Christ's will for his followers to be with him and behold his glory is like a type of strong and gentle embrace that leads man to eternal life.

The Pope said this today in a reflection he gave at the conclusion of the funeral for Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, 90, who died Friday in Rome.

The Jesuit cardinal was renowned for the contribution he made to theological dialogue between the East and West.

The Holy Father noted that among the prelate's dying words were these: "I have looked for the face of Jesus during my whole life, and now I am happy and at peace because I am about to see it."

The Pope linked this "wonderful thought" to the prayer of Jesus in John's Gospel: "Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world."

He said it is "beautiful and consoling" to consider thus how man's desire corresponds to Christ's desire.

"In reality, that [desire] of Christ is much more than an aspiration: It is a will," the Pontiff clarified. "[...] And it is precisely here, in this will, where we find the 'rock,' the solid foundation to believe and to hope. The will of Jesus in fact coincides with that of God the Father, and with the work of the Holy Spirit it constitutes for man a sort of sure 'embrace,' strong and gentle, which leads him to eternal life."

"What an immense gift to hear this will of God from his own mouth," the Holy Father exclaimed. "I think that the great men of faith live immersed in this grace, they have the gift to perceive this truth with particular force, and so can also go through harsh trials."

Tried by fire

Benedict XVI then reflected on how the Czech cardinal was similar to Pope John Paul II.

He spoke of how men of faith such as the cardinal are characterized by confidence and a "lively sense of humor, which is certainly a sign of intelligence but also of interior liberty."

"Under this profile," the Pope said, "evident was the likeness between our mourned cardinal and the Venerable John Paul II: both were given to ingenious joking and jokes, even though having had as youths difficult personal circumstances, similar in some aspects.

"Providence made them meet and collaborate for the good of the Church, especially so that she would learn to breathe fully 'with her two lungs,' as the Slav Pope liked to say."

Hope and joy

The Bishop of Rome also reflected on the "hope and joy of the Risen Jesus," saying they are "also the hope and joy of his friends, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit."

"Father Spidlik demonstrated it habitually with his way of living," the Holy Father said, "and this witness of his was ever more eloquent with the passing of the years because, despite his advanced age and the inevitable infirmities, his spirit remained fresh and youthful. What is this if not friendship with the Risen Lord?"

The Pope went on to meditate on the cardinal's motto: "with all the heart."

He alluded to this phrase in his concluding prayer: "May the Virgin Mother of God accompany the soul of our venerated brother in the embrace of the Most Holy Trinity, where 'with all the heart' he will eternally praise his infinite Love."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-28981?l=english