HOMILY On THE beatification of Padre pio
H.H. John Paul II
Sunday, May 2, 1999
1. "For my yoke is
easy and my burden light" (Mt 11,30).
Jesus' words to his
disciples, which we just heard, help us to understand the most
important message of this solemn celebration. Indeed, in a
certain sense, we can consider them as a magnificent summary of
the whole life of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, today proclaimed a
The evangelical image of
the "yoke" recalls the many trials that the humble Capuchin of
San Giovanni Rotondo had to face. Today we contemplate in him
how gentle the "yoke" of Christ is, and how truly light is his
burden when it is borne with faithful love. The life and mission
of Padre Pio prove that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted
out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness,
which opens onto the horizons of a greater good, known only to
2. "But may I never boast except in the cross of Our Lord
Jesus Christ" (Gal 6,14).
Is it not, precisely, the
"glory of the Cross" that shines above all in Padre Pio? How
timely is the spirituality of the Cross lived by the humble
Capuchin of Pietrelcina. Our time needs to rediscover the value
of the Cross in order to open the heart to hope.
Throughout his life, he
always sought greater conformity with the Crucified, since he
was very conscious of having been called to collaborate in a
special way in the work of redemption. His holiness cannot be
understood without this constant reference to the Cross.
In God's plan, the Cross
constitutes the true instrument of salvation for the whole of
humanity and the way clearly offered by the Lord to those who
wish to follow him (cf. Mk 16,24). The Holy Franciscan of
the Gargano understood this well, when on the Feast of the
Assumption in 1914, he wrote: "In order to succeed in reaching
our ultimate end we must follow the divine Head, who does not
wish to lead the chosen soul on any way other than the one he
followed; by that, I say, of abnegation and the Cross" (Epistolario
II, p. 155).
3. "I am the Lord who acts with mercy" (Jer 9,23).
Padre Pio was a generous
dispenser of divine mercy, making himself available to all by
welcoming them, by spiritual direction and, especially, by the
administration of the sacrament of Penance. I also had the
privilege, during my young years, of benefitting from his
availability for penitents. The ministry of the confessional,
which is one of the distinctive traits of his apostolate,
attracted great crowds of the faithful to the monastery of San
Giovanni Rotondo. Even when that unusual confessor treated
pilgrims with apparent severity, the latter, becoming conscious
of the gravity of sins and sincerely repentant, almost always
came back for the peaceful embrace of sacramental forgiveness.
May his example encourage priests to carry out with joy and zeal
this ministry which is so important today, as I wished to
confirm this year in the Letter to Priests on the occasion of
4. "You, Lord, are my only good".
This is what we sang in
the responsorial psalm. Through these words, the new Saint
invites us to place God above everything, to consider him our
sole and highest good.
In fact, the ultimate
reason for the apostolic effectiveness of Padre Pio, the
profound root of so much spiritual fruitfulness can be found in
that intimate and constant union with God, attested to by his
long hours spent in prayer and in the confessional. He loved to
repeat, "I am a poor Franciscan who prays" convinced that
"prayer is the best weapon we have, a key that opens the heart
characteristic of his spirituality continues in the "Prayer
Groups" that he founded, which offer to the Church and to
society the wonderful contribution of incessant and confident
prayer. To prayer, Padre Pio joined an intense charitable
activity, of which the "Home for the Relief of Suffering" is an
extraordinary expression. Prayer and charity, this is the most
concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching, which today is
offered to everyone.
5. "I bless you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, because ... these things ... you have
revealed to little ones" (Mt 11,25).
How appropriate are these
words of Jesus, when we think of them as applied to you, humble
and beloved Padre Pio.
Teach us, we ask you,
humility of heart so we may be counted among the little ones of
the Gospel, to whom the Father promised to reveal the mysteries
of his Kingdom.
Help us to pray without
ceasing, certain that God knows what we need even before we ask
Obtain for us the eyes of faith that will be able to recognize
right away in the poor and suffering the face of Jesus.
Sustain us in the hour of
the combat and of the trial and, if we fall, make us experience
the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness.
Grant us your tender
devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother.
Accompany us on our
earthly pilgrimage toward the blessed homeland, where we hope to
arrive in order to contemplate forever the glory of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit.
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