In his homily, Pope Francis recalled how Jesus’ last words — “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” — summed up the “ceaseless self-entrustment” to God that had defined Benedict’s life.
Francis didn’t mention Benedict by name until the last line, in which he referred to Jesus as the bridegroom of the church. “Benedict, faithful friend of the Bridegroom, may your joy be complete as you hear his voice, now and forever.”
But in addition to mourning Benedict as the church’s former pastor, the pope’s short speech included lines that could be interpreted as referring to the soft-spoken German theologian whose life’s work was meditating on the life of Jesus, and who faced many challenges as pope before his retirement in 2013.
“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,” Francis said. “In the course of this intercession, the Lord quietly bestows the spirit of meekness that is ready to understand, accept, hope and risk, notwithstanding any misunderstandings that might result.”
Francis added that “holding fast to the Lord’s last words and to the witness of his entire life, we too, as an ecclesial community, want to follow in his steps and to commend our brother into the hands of the Father.
“May those merciful hands find his lamp alight with the oil of the Gospel that he spread and testified to for his entire life,” he said.